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Raw Goat Milk: Is It Good for You?

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 13, 2020

Raw goat milk is collected from goats and is not pasteurized to remove bacteria and other potentially harmful germs. For this reason, it has been effectively banned in most states as it poses a risk of food-borne illness. Yet, many proponents of raw goat milk claim that the beneficial bacteria and enzymes contribute to a range of health benefits. Although raw goat milk is believed to promote healthy digestion and soothe allergies associated with processed dairy, more research is needed to support these claims.

Nutrition Information

One cup of raw goat milk contains: 

  • Calories: 168
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 11 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 11 grams

Raw goat milk is a good source of: 

Raw goat milk is also an excellent source of v itamin A. Studies have shown that vitamin A may lower the risk of conditions like cataracts, diarrhea, measles, and breast cancer.

Potential Health Benefits of Raw Goat Milk

Raw goat milk is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. However, because raw goat milk is unpasteurized, it can also be a source of food-borne illness. Some of the supported benefits to drinking raw goat milk include: 

Improved Digestion

Proponents of raw goat milk claim that the beneficial bacteria and enzymes preserved by avoiding pasteurization are important to the human gut microbiome. Yet, reports of improved digestion from drinking raw goat milk need additional scientific research to support the claims.

Hypoallergenic Properties

Compared to cow’s milk, which can be a common allergen for infants and children, goat milk has been shown to have hypoallergenic properties. The research suggests that individuals allergic to cow’s milk may be more likely to tolerate goat milk. 

Better Nutrition

Raw goat milk has a protein composition similar to that of breast milk and contains an abundance of nutrients. In comparison to cow’s milk, goat milk showed several nutritionally desirable traits. Raw goat milk, however, showed lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than cow’s milk.

Potential Risks of Raw Goat Milk

Many states restrict the sale of raw goat milk due to health and safety concerns. Only one state, Oregon, allows raw goat milk to be sold in any retail store.

Because raw goat milk is unpasteurized, you should consult with your doctor before consuming it. Consider the following before preparing or drinking raw goat milk:

Food-Borne Illness

Because raw goat milk is not pasteurized to remove bacteria, it can cause infection by harmful bacteria including E. coli,  S. aureus, and salmonella amongst others. Additionally, raw goat milk has also been linked to several cases of tick-borne encephalitis in Croatia and Germany. 

Pregnancy Concerns

Drinking raw dairy increases the chance that pregnant women may suffer complications from L isteria bacteria. Pregnant women who contract Listeria may experience miscarriage, illness, or death of the newborn baby, even if they don’t feel sick. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it is best to look for an alternative to raw goat milk. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Britannica: “Raw Milk Laws State-by-State”

Euro Surveillance: “A Cluster of Two Human Cases of Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) Transmitted by Unpasteurised Goat Milk and Cheese in Germany, May 2016.” 

Infection: “An Outbreak of Tick-borne Encephalitis Associated with Raw Goat Milk and Cheese Consumption, Croatia, 2015.”

International Dairy Journal: “Effect of digestive enzymes on the bioactive properties of goat milk protein hydrolysates”.

Journal of Dairy Science: “Occurrence of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus in goat milk from small and medium-sized farms located in Minas Gerais State, Brazil.”

Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources: “Hypoallergenic and Physicochemical

Properties of the A2 β-Casein Fraction of Goat Milk.”

Nutrients: “Comparative Nutrient Profiling of Retail Goat and Cow Milk.”

National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives: “Raw Goat Milk.”

U.S. Food & Drug Administration: “The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk.”

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