It's Spring: Eat Goat Cheese
Written by Elaine Khosrova
Does goat cheese each day keep the doctor away?
As farmstead goat dairies around the country swell with their annual arrival of springtime baby kids and the lactic windfall they cause, fresh goat cheese gems are fast coming to market. If you, like us, are seeking out spring’s special crop of creamy chevre logs and delicate crottins, it’s good to know these cheese babies are not only luscious—they’re also among the most healthful of dairy foods.
The nutrient composition of goat milk is very different than that of cow's milk. In addition to containing 13% more calcium than cow's milk, goat’s milk also has 25% more vitamin B-6. Goat’s milk is also rich in chloride, copper and manganese and contains 27% more of the essential nutrient selenium. And unlike other calcium rich foods, goat’s milk actually seems to enhance iron absorption.
A lot of nutritional attention has also been paid to the fact that goat’s milk products are generally more digestible than cow’s milk products. Although goat milk, like cow's milk, contains lactose, many people with lactose intolerance can better tolerate goat products. The reason why is still being debated, but most research seems to point to the fact that the smaller protein molecules of casein in goat’s milk leave less undigested residue behind in the colon, which would otherwise ferment and cause the discomfort that comes with lactose intolerance.
It may also be that digestibility for some is unrelated to lactose intolerance, but rather the fact that 1-in-10 people are allergic to the major protein of cow's milk, alpha S1 casein. The symptoms of this allergy are almost identical to those of lactose intolerance. Goat’s milk contains none of this offending protein.
Also adding to the wholesomeness of goat’s milk and its products is the higher proportion of essential fatty acids (linoleic and arachidonic acids) and short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids than cow's milk. Research indicates that the fat in goat’s milk is more readily digested and absorbed than fat in cow’s milk products because our digestive enzymes can more easily break down these shorter fatty acids than longer chains.
Whatever the nutritional benefits of goat’s milk cheese may be, this is the season to reap them—and enjoy every healthy morsel. Choose the freshest chevres in your market and seek out local farmstead gems. Here are some of our regional and national goat’s cheese favorites: