Many of us living in the United States are missing out on a source of lean, healthy protein that three quarters of the rest of the world have been eating for centuries – goat meat and milk.
Maybe it’s because we associate goats with being the curiously cuddly creatures they are making it hard to actually want to eat them. Just 15 years ago, the demand for goat meat or milk was almost unheard of. But now, goats have become a trendy farm animal to raise as more and more small farms are realizing the profit and demand for them with the influx of ethnic groups from other countries who use goats as a primary food source.
What nutritional value do goat meat and milk provide? Actually, more than many of us realize. Whether you choose goat meat or milk or both, either one has an exceptional nutritional profile we should consider.
Health benefits of goat milk
Cow’s milk contains a substance called alphaS1-casein or whey proteins that have been attributed to causing symptoms of cow’s milk allergy in children. Depending on the breed, goat milk contains negligible levels of alphaS1-casein. Research shows that 40% or more of people allergic to cow’s milk can tolerate goat milk better.
· Environmental impact
Dairy goats require less water per gallon of milk than other livestock and they produce nearly 20 times less methane gas per kg of body weight than dairy cows.
· Short and medium chain fatty acids
Goat milk contains significantly higher levels of short and medium-chain fatty acids than cow milk. It is suggested that these fatty acids are rapidly digested providing quick energy for the body and are associated with numerous health benefits.
· Easy digestibility
The size of fat globules in goat milk is smaller than in cow milk forming a smaller and softer curd in the stomach. The small, soft curds are rapidly broken down by stomach enzymes making goat milk easily digestible.
Comparing goat milk to cow milk looks like this:
Goat milk - One cup or 8 ounces contains 327 milligrams of calcium, 8.7 grams of protein, 498 milligrams of potassium, 124 IU of vitamin D and 0.3 grams of riboflavin.
Cow milk - One cup or 8 ounces contains 290 milligrams of calcium, 8.2 grams of protein, 366 milligrams of potassium, 127 IU of vitamin D and 0.5 milligrams of riboflavin.
Health benefits of goat meat
Goat meat consumption in the U. S. has exploded in recent years with its availability and popularity among ethnic groups who have an interest and demand for this animal source of protein.
Goat meat is leaner than both beef and chicken in terms of calories and fat and saturated grams. Here is a comparison between the three meats per 3 ounce portion size:
Goat – 122 calories, 2.58 grams of fat, 0.79 grams of saturated fat, 23 grams of protein, and 3.2 grams of iron.
Beef – 245 calories, 16.0 grams of fat, 6.8 grams of saturated fat, 23 grams of protein, and 2.0 grams of iron.
Chicken – 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.1 grams of saturated fat, 21 grams of protein, and 1.5 grams of iron.
Farmers who raise goats have to abide by USDA regulations and inspection of which no hormones are allowed in production practices and antibiotics much be used within federal guidelines.
Because goat meat is so low in fat, it can be challenging to cook. A meat as lean as goat needs to be cooked slowly at a low temperature to prevent it from drying out which would make it tough. Roasting or braising are the best methods of cooking goat meat along with marinating it to help retain moisture and tenderness as well.
Anyone who has a few acres and a strong interest in raising a farm animal for their meat or milk should consider goats. They are very hardy, friendly with a curious nature and will even eat weeds other animals won’t touch such as poison ivy. Their only drawback - they are escape artists. A well-built escape-proof pen is a must. Goats usually don’t wander far if they do get out of their pen so don’t be surprised if you find one on your front porch!