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Got Goat Milk?

Pop quiz: What is the most widely consumed milk in the world? If you said cow, try again. The answer is goat milk, which is gradually beginning to make a mark in the United States.

Easier to digest than its cow counterpart, goat milk is also nutritionally superior to many nut and grain milks. But is it worth making the switch? Dr. Kate Morrison, N.D. and cofounder and chief medical officer of Kabrita USA, a producer of goat-milk foods, thinks so. Morrison turned to goat milk when, after not being able to breastfeed her son, she discovered that cow’s-milk formula didn’t sit well with him. She concocted a goat-milk version, saw that her son responded well to it and was on her way to encouraging a goat-milk revolution. She went on to partner with Hyproca Nutrition, a leading Dutch dairy producer, with more than 70 years of infant-nutrition expertise, to bring Kabrita goat-milk formula to the U.S. We asked her to make the case for us to give the alternate dairy choice a chance. Here’s what she had to say.

Q: Nutritionally, which milk wins: goat or cow's?

A: When it comes to macronutrient profile, goat milk is quite similar to cow milk. It’s micro-composition, however, is quite different. Goat milk is naturally homogenized, lacks agglutinin [a substance that causes particles to clump together], and contains 50 percent less alpha S1casein micro-protein than cow milk. This results in a smaller and softer curd formed in the stomach and greater digestive ease. Other key differences is the fat globules in goat milk are smaller than those in cow milk…and certain minerals—including iron, calcium and zinc—are more bioavailable, or easier for the body to absorb.

Q: What about nut milks?

A: I personally love nut milks because they are low in calories and taste great. But when it comes to nutrition they pack far less punch. While goat milk contains 8.6 grams of protein per cup, almond milk contains 1 gram per cup and cashew milk, less than 1 gram per cup. Almond milk is also lacking vitamin K, B vitamins, folic acid, phosphorous, zinc, manganese, copper and selenium—all of which are present in goat milk.

Q: There has been a lot of talk lately about GMOs and hormones found in foods. What should we know with regard to goat milk?

A: Hormones may be endogenous, naturally occurring, or exogenous, coming from an external source. Mammalian milk, such as human, cow and goat, all contain a certain amount of naturally occurring hormones. With respect to exogenous hormone use, I can most accurately comment on the goat milk used in Kabrita products. The goat milk for our toddler yogurt is sourced from a non-GMO Project Verified family farm in Missouri. This farm does not use, endorse or purchase products that have been exposed to herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The goat milk for our toddler formula comes from the Netherlands, where strict European food policies are maintained. While GMO labeling is not mandatory here in the United States, all foods with GMO labels over 0.9 percent must be labeled. Kabrita USA products are non-GMO.

Q: How can one tell if a child has a sensitivity to cow’s milk?

A: Clinical and parental observation suggests that over half of all children suffer from some form of cow-milk sensitivity, with signs and symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, congestion and eczema. Goat milk is naturally easy to digest and may be a solution for children with cow-milk sensitivity. Though it’s important to note that a small percentage of the pediatric population has a cow-milk protein allergy and neither cow nor goat milk is a suitable option because of the cross-reactivity of some of the proteins.

Q: Why is goat milk a strong choice for infants?

A: Studies have shown that the stool characteristics of infants fed goat-milk formula are similar to those of babies fed breast milk. Goat milk is also more similar in composition to human milk, making it an ideal food for transitioning from breast milk. But while goat milk is an excellent base for formula, whole goat milk is not a suitable alternative to breast milk for children under the age of 12 months. Its high protein and mineral content can be a burden to small kidneys and it is also relatively low in folic acid and vitamin B12. Formula is adapted to meet their nutritional needs.

Q: What does goat-milk formula bring to the table that other formulas don’t?

A: The biggest benefit is how easy it is to digest. In addition to the characteristics we already discussed, a key part of our formulation is the adapted whey to casein ratio. Whey and casein are two protein fractions found in cow, goat and human milk. While both cow and goat milk have a whey to casein ratio of 20:80, our adapted formula is 50:50—much closer to the 60:40 whey to casein ratio found in human milk.

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