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Cow, goat or sheep: which is the best milk?

It is clear that cow’s milk has won the lot to the other milks of animal origin. In fact, 83% of the population regularly consumes cow’s milk and little attention is paid to what we can get from milking goats and sheep. Although it is also true that animal milk lives low hours, as it is currently consumed almost 30% less than in 2000. However, it continues to be basic in food, especially among the youngest, where a daily glass, at breakfast, is a ‘must’.

However, goat’s and sheep’s milks continue to be the great unknown, despite the fact that the latter provides us with the raw material to prepare the most prestigious cheeses and some curds that we savour with devotion. Therefore, both milks deserve our full attention since they are full of certain qualities capable of eclipsing the one obtained from our beloved cow.

Goat’s milk, ideal for infants

With regard to goat’s milk, we cannot miss the conclusions of a group of researchers from the University of Granada who state that this milk can be considered “a functional natural food”, whose habitual consumption (or that of its derivatives) should be promoted among the general population. Especially among all those “people with allergy, intolerance to cow’s milk, malabsorption problems, high cholesterol, anemia, osteoporosis or prolonged treatments with iron supplements”.

In particular, people with anaemia can benefit from regular consumption of this product as it provides greater availability of iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, thus preventing iron-deficiency anaemia, as well as bone demineralisation.

In addition, its composition is similar to that of breastmilk and, of course, this circumstance causes it to be used as a basis for the production of milk replacers. Thus, since 2014, following the amendment of the royal decree regulating infant formulae and follow-on formulae, the use of goat’s milk has been permitted.

This change has meant that the market has seen a proliferation of formula milks marketed by brands such as Capricare, Topfer or Caprea by Babybio, which are based on this class of milks. This product contains less alpha 1 casein, as in breast milk, which is responsible for most cow’s milk allergies. Therefore, it is hypoallergenic and ideal for babies.

We consume 30% less animal milk than in 2000, and among them, cow’s milk is still the queen

But you don’t have to be an infant to appreciate the benefits of this milk because, in addition to helping us in case of anemia, it gives us a hand with cholesterol. Thus, goat’s milk has between 30% and 40% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. In addition, it has the highest concentration of omega 6. In short, the perfect milk to protect us from the development of possible cardiovascular affections.

Sheep’s, the one with the most calcium

This milk is unbeatable in one aspect: calcium. The truth is that in this matter it knocks out cow’s milk and leaves goat’s milk somewhat stunned, but still standing. Specifically, it contains 80% more calcium than cow’s calcium. Having said that, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to opt for cow’s milk enriched with this nutrient when we have sheep’s milk overflowing with calcium and waiting patiently on the supermarket shelf.

In addition, a glass of sheep’s milk is a gift to our health with sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, iodine and phosphorus. This food is also rich in vitamins B9, B7, B3, A, C, D, E and K.

However, it is true that its price is not distinguished by being a cheapness precisely. In fact, it is usually much more expensive than cow’s or goat’s and, especially if we are used to paying less than one euro for a litre of cow’s milk, it seems excessive to us to pay two euros for one of sheep’s milk. The brand Ganaderos de Zamora (Gaza) is one of those that offers packaged milk with the longest expiration date thanks to the patent developed by them. We also find COVAP, from the Valley of the Pedroches. But it is possible to buy it fresh from many other manufacturers such as the Albacete-born El Cantero de Letur or Ultzama, from Navarre.

Microalgae to feed the sheep

Despite the fact that this milk is practically irreproachable nutritionally, the Mountain Cattle Institute is committed to further improving the quality of this product. To this end, it is carrying out research with the aim of finding out whether it is viable to introduce microalgae into sheep feed

Experts are convinced that they can make sheep’s milk even healthier by nourishing these animals with vegetables rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as sunflower oil, olive oil or flax oil.