With a lot of controversy surrounding dairy products like cow's milk and cow cheese, many people are looking for non-dairy alternatives, like almond milk and goat cheese, to get their "dairy" fix without any actual dairy. But are there benefits of choosing goat cheese versus cow cheese?
Goat cheese is rich in lots of minerals, like calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also helps fight inflammation and provides healthy fats and essential amino acids. Many people who can't tolerate cow cheese can eat goat cheese without a problem.
The short answer is yes, especially if you're sensitive to cow cheese. But there are also goat cheese benefits even for people who can tolerate cow's milk cheese without any issues. For most people, goat cheese is highly digestible and it also contains bioactive compounds that contribute to your health.
Goat Cheese Nutrition
When it comes to basic goat cheese nutrition, it's a good choice due to its fat and protein content. Goat cheese is rich in several types of healthy fats, like short-chain and medium-chain. fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and medium-chain triglycerides. It also contains high-quality, easily digestible protein that supplies most of the essential amino acids that you need (in higher amounts than cow cheese).
Goat cheese also contains significant amounts of several major and trace minerals including:
Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese
One of the major differences of goat cheese vs. cow cheese is their protein breakdown. Cow cheese contains two major proteins: whey and casein. The casein protein is further categorized into two types: A1 beta casein protein and A2 beta casein protein.
When your body digests the A1 beta casein protein, it gets broken down into a compound called beta-casomorphin-7, which is responsible for a lot of the bad effects, like digestive discomfort, inflammation and cognitive problems, associated with cow's milk foods.
Unlike cow cheese, which contains both types of casein protein, goat cheese only contains A2 beta casein, which doesn't get broken down into beta-casomorphin-7. Because of this, researchers from a study that was published in Nutrition Journal in April 2016 set out to see if people who reported that they couldn't tolerate cow's milk products could tolerate milk products with only A2 beta casein, like goat's milk (which is used to make goat cheese).
The researchers found that the consumption of regular cow's milk led to constipation, cognitive troubles, systemic inflammation and reduced levels of short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to gut health. On the other hand, the products with only A2 beta casein didn't cause any of these ill effects. In fact, the A2 beta casein products increased the concentration of short-chain fatty acids, which help fight inflammation and support the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Other Goat Cheese Benefits
In addition to helping fight inflammation and contributing to a healthy gut, goat cheese has lower allergenic properties, which means it's less likely to cause an allergic reaction, according to a July 2019 report in the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. It's also more easily digested than cow cheese. Sutter Health points out that while both cow cheese and goat cheese contain lower levels of lactose than cow's milk, many people seem to tolerate goat cheese better.
Goat cheese, and other goat dairy products, are also rich in several different antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and protect against heart disease. It also contains a bioactive peptide compound called angiotensin-converting-enzyme (or ACE) inhibitor peptides. According to the report in Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, this peptide can help fight high blood pressure.
Goat cheese also contains other various health-promoting compounds like:
- Fatty acids (conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids)
- Organic acids
- Exopolysaccharides (or EPS)
- Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences: "Recent Advances in Dairy Goat Products"
- Sutter Health: "Lactose Intolerance and Goat Cheese"
- International Journal of Chemical Studies: "Perspective Role of Goat Milk and Products: A Review"
- California Dairy Research Foundation: "A2 Milk Facts"
- Nutrition Journal: "Effects of Milk Containing Only A2 Beta Casein Versus Milk Containing Both a1 and a2 Beta Casein Proteins on Gastrointestinal Physiology, Symptoms of Discomfort, and Cognitive Behavior of People With Self-Reported Intolerance to Traditional Cows’ Milk"
- American Heart Association; Know Your Fats; January 2011
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients