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Health Facts

Composition of Cow, Sheep and Goat Milks

Table 1: Chemical Composition of Milk from different species.

Table 2: Principle fatty acids (g/100g fat) in milk fats from different species.

Note: The tabled figures above are averages obtained through scientific studies.
Milk composition varies according to feed, breeds of animal, stages of lactation and the environment. 

 

Digestion

Cow’s milk and Goat milk have a similar percentage of fat and protein in the milk (see Table 1.).  However the differences in the size and composition of the fat molecules in the milk between the two species attribute to easier digestion of goat milk.
When compared to cow’s milk, the fat globules contained in goat milk are much smaller in size. As a result of this there is an increase in the surface area of the fats which are exposed to lipase enzymes within the intestines which allows a more efficient break down (digestion) of these molecules.  

In addition to this, there are a greater proportion of medium chain fatty acids in goat milk fat when compared to cow’s milk (see Table 2.). The smaller chain size allows the lipase enzymes to process these compounds more quickly.

Flavour

Some goat milk products have a strong and sometimes offensive flavour.  This flavour is due to the presence of medium-chain fatty acids (capric, caprylic and dcaproic acid) combined with bacterial enzymes (lipase) which breakdown these molecules to produce the “goaty” flavour. Matured goat cheese products typically present this flavour attribute, however fresh goat cheese such as the products manufactured at Meredith Dairy (Chevre, Marinated Cheese) should be absent of this flavour. Fresh, correctly treated goat milk usually has a very neutral and clean flavour.

Food Allergies and Intolerances

Below is an excerpt taken from the Victorian Government website, Better Health Channel, if you would like further information please follow the link provided and consult your local health professional when seeking medical advice.  http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Food_allergy_and_intolerance

Allergy is an immune response

“Allergies are an overreaction of the body’s immune system to a specific part of a food, usually a protein. These proteins may be from foods, pollens, house dust, animal hair or moulds. They are called allergens. The word ‘allergy’ means that the immune system has responded to a harmless substance as if it were toxic.”

Food intolerance is a chemical reaction

“Food intolerance is a ‘chemical’ reaction that some people have after eating or drinking some foods; it is not an immune response. Food intolerance has been associated with asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Food intolerance is much more common than food allergy.”

Milk Allergies and Intolerances

Goat’s milk protein has a similar structure to that of cow’s milk thus goat milk is not suitable for those people with a true cow’s milk allergy (IgE-mediated immune response).
Intolerances to cow’s milk based dairy products may be overcome by switching to goat or sheep based products however this will vary from person to person.
If you are unsure whether you are intolerant or allergic to milk products it is best to seek advice from your doctor or health professional before trying new foods.

Lactose Intollerance

Lactose, literally meaning “milk sugar”, is the primary sugar found in milk from most mammals. Those who have a sensitivity or intolerance toward lactose lack the ability to produce the enzyme (lactase) that is required for the break down and digestion of lactose in the human body.
Fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt and cheese, are manufactured using starter cultures (good bacteria) whose primary role is to convert the lactose present in the milk into lactic acid which forms an integral part of the finished product.
Depending on their sensitivity, lactose intolerant people can better tolerate fermented dairy products due to the action of the starter cultures consuming the lactose in the milk. All products manufactured at Meredith Dairy are considered high-acid thus a high portion of lactose in the product has consumed by the starter cultures making the products more favourable for those lactose sensitive people who enjoy dairy products.

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. This Information is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

References

A.Y, T. (2004). Yoghurt: Science and Technology. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
State Government of Victoria (2012). Better Health Channel. Lactose Intolerance. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lactose_intolerance
State Government of Victoria (2011). Better Health Channel. Food Allergy and Intolerance. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Food_allergy_and_intolerance
T, H., Upadhyay, V., Kelly, A., & Tamime, A. (2006). Constituents and Properties of Milk from Different Species. Brined Cheeses (pp. 3-13). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

 

 

 
 
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