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CAB Reviews

A reviews journal covering agriculture, global health, nutrition, natural resources and veterinary science

CAB Review

Impact of goat milk and milk products on human nutrition.


Even though dairy cows produce the highest proportion of the world milk supply (mostly in developed countries), more people drink the milk of goats than drink milk of any other species worldwide. Given the limited availability of cow milk, goat milk and its products are important daily food sources of protein, phosphate and calcium for the people of developing countries. In addition, dairy goat farming is a vital sector of agriculture in developed countries, especially those in the Mediterranean region, such as France, Italy, Spain and Greece. This indicates that goat and sheep dairying is not necessarily synonymous with poverty or an underdeveloped business sector. Goat milk differs from cow or human milk in its higher digestibility, distinct alkalinity, higher buffering capacity and certain therapeutic values in human medicine. Goat milk has smaller fat globules and more friable proteins (with significantly lower αs1- and higher αs2-casein) when acidified, giving better digestibility than cow milk. Goat milk has more short- and medium-chain fatty acids (medium chain triglycerides (MCT)), which have a unique metabolic ability to provide energy for growing children, and are used for treatment of malabsorption patients. Goat milk and its manufactured products including cheeses, yoghurt and powdered products are valued parts of the dairy industry in developed countries, providing connoisseur consumers with diversified and unique tastes, and by supporting people with medical afflictions, such as allergies and gastrointestinal disorders, who need alternative dairy products. Goat milk serves human nutrition in three important ways: (a) home consumption, (b) specialty gourmet interests and (c) medical-therapeutic applications.