Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese (THE DIFFERENCES)

Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese (THE DIFFERENCES) - Cheese Origin (UPDATED)

The global goat milk product is expected to see significant growth between 2019 to 2025 at a CAGR of over 7%.

Needless to say, we can expect to see more goat cheese in our dining tables in the years to come and beyond.

The question is, do we know the differences between cow cheese and goat cheese despite their striking similarities?

Below are 8 key distinctions between these two common types of cheese:

Taste:Neutral & MildStrong & Sour
Texture:Dense & FirmTender & Soft
Lactose: HighLow
Nutrition:Lower in Minerals & FatHigher in Minerals & Fat
Color:Off-white or YellowWhite
Fat Molecule:LargerSmaller
Milk Fat Content:4.2 to 5.5%3.4 to 4.2%
Availability:Versatile, abundant & affordableMade and sold locally & more expensive
*Source for Milk Fat Content

The Differences Between Cow Milk and Goat Milk

“Without milk, there can be no cheese worth its name.”

Jeremiah Say (CheeseOrigin.com)

Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk is by far the most affordable and readily available milk in the United States.

However, different breeds of cow produce different qualities in their milk, so it is helpful to have a working understanding of the differences you might encounter.

  • Holstein cows: These are the large black and white cows that you see dotting the countryside form coast to coast. Needless to say, they are the majority population in the United States. They produce enormous quantities of milk, however, the milk is somewhat watery, with fewer milk solids overall.
  • Jersey cows: These cows are top pick for cheesemaking. They produce lesser milk than Holsteins, but their milk is richer in fat, protein, and nutrients. Jersey cows’ milk is often used to make butter, because of its creamy content.
  • Brown Swiss, Dutch-belted, etc.: Many other breeds are present at dairy farms around the United States, but they are much less common than Holstein or Jersey. If you find a local farm with a less common breed of cow, just ask the farmer about the components of the milk.

Goat’s Milk

Packaged goat’s milk is becoming more readily available at grocery stores around the country. It still comes at a much higher price than cow’s milk, as a goat produces only about 10 percent as much milk as a cow.

One major benefit of goat’s milk is the lower lactose content which makes it easier on our stomachs. About 12 percent less per cup to be exact.

Recommended read: 4 Common Types of Animal’s Milk Used to Make Cheese

Milk: Nutrition Facts Comparison

*Nutrition facts table below is based on 1 cup serving (244 g)

Cow Whole MilkGoat Milk
Carbohydrates12 g11 g
Fat8 g10.1 g
Calories148 calories168 calories
Calcium305 mg327 mg
Protein8 g8.9 g
Vitamin A (% daily value*)7 %9 %
Vitamin B-6 (% daily value*)5 %5 %
Vitamin B-12 (% daily value*)18 %3 %
Vitamin C (% daily value*)0 %5 %
Vitamin D (% daily value*)31 %31%
Magnesium (% daily value*)6 %8 %
Sodium104.9 mg122 mg
Potassium322.1 mg497.8 mg
Cholesterol24 mg26.8 mg
Source: USDA

Comparing Goat Milk and Cow Milk Lactose

Digestive troubles and ‘lactose intolerance‘ caused by milk are due to milk’s high lactose content and a deficiency of the lactase enzyme in the gut.

Goat MilkCow Milk
Lactose ContentContains about 4.1% lactoseContains about 4.7% lactose
DigestibilityEasier to digest due to smaller fat globules and higher levels of short- and medium-chain fatty acidsMay be harder to digest for some individuals due to larger fat globules
Suitability for Lactose Intolerant PeopleSome people with lactose intolerance may find it easier to tolerateMay cause discomfort in lactose-intolerant individuals

Cow Milk Lactose

Harder long-aged cow’s milk cheeses such as aged Cheddars, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Apline-style cheeses should be easier on your stomach.

When lactic acid bacteria are added to milk in cheesemaking, they convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid.

That is why aged cow’s milk cheese has lesser residual lactose in them.

Goat Milk Lactose

Goats’ and sheep’s milk have lower amounts of lactose to begin with, so even younger cheeses made from them can be much easier for a lactose-intolerant person to digest.

Recommended read: Why is Milk White?

Health Benefits: Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese

Health BenefitsGoat CheeseCow Cheese
CaloriesLower in calories compared to many cow cheesesGenerally higher in calories
Fat ContentLower in fat and saturated fatTypically higher in fat and saturated fat
ProteinSlightly lower protein contentSlightly higher protein content
CalciumLower levels of calciumHigher levels of calcium
Vitamin AHigher in Vitamin A due to efficient β-carotene metabolismLower in Vitamin A
LactoseLower lactose levels, potentially easier to digest for people with lactose intoleranceHigher lactose levels
Vitamin BHigh in Vitamin B, particularly B1 and B2Contains Vitamin B but is generally lower than goat cheese
Please note that the specific health benefits can vary depending on the type of cheese (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, feta, etc.), the diet and health of the animals producing the milk, and the production methods used.

If you are going for health benefits, goat’s milk and cheese are hands-down the winner.

The reasons why are summed down below:

  • Lesser sugar (lactose)
  • Smaller fat molecules for easier digestion
  • Has less-harmful casein (protein) variant
  • Richer in vitamins and minerals

Learn more about the Health Benefits of Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese:

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