While cows milk is the highest seller in the US and UK, in other parts of the world, goat milk is the preferred choice. We can now get sheep’s milk and sheep milk products. How do they differ from each other?
You may recall a previous post about the estrogen content of cow and goat milk. As cows are milked throughout a lot of their pregnancy, and their pregnancies are long, they have much higher estrogen levels than goat milk. This even applies to organic cows milk. So goat milk is preferable over cows milk, for reducing our intake of external sources of estrogen. Check out the post using the link above for more information.
But there are other differences between the two dairy products, and as we can now get sheep’s milk, let’s compare all three in terms of nutritional content and other factors.
As you can see, each has its own profile.
Cows milk is readily available and has the lowest fat content (full-fat milk was used in this analysis), but has higher allergenicity, is harder to digest, and has the highest estrogen content.
Goats milk is becoming more readily available and is often tolerated when people can’t drink cows milk, due to its improved digestibility and lower allergenicity. It has more calcium than cows milk but less than sheep’s milk. However, its taste is more tangy and many people are put off by the ‘goatiness’ of it!!
Nutritionally, sheep milk looks favorable with good vitamin and mineral levels. It has the highest level of calcium with 1 cup of sheep milk providing 47% of your daily recommended calcium intake, compared to 27% for cows milk. The high-fat content also gives it a lovely creamy taste.
However, there is a big question mark over its estrogen content. Estrogen is found in fat cells, and sheep milk has the highest fat content – but does that mean it has the highest estrogen content? We just don’t know. Because of a shorter pregnancy time, less sheep milk will be from pregnant animals than we get in cows milk, and it is during pregnancy when the estrogen levels are highest. So possibly sheep milk estrogen levels are OK? The research does not appear to have been conducted or isn’t reported.
And why don’t we see that much sheep’s milk for sale? Apparently, if you have ever tried to milk a sheep, you will understand. They are the worst for milking, out of the three animals!
With this uncertainty over estrogen levels in sheep milk, I feel there is no one clear favorite. I would love to see that data. Personally, I eat some fermented goat and sheep products but no milk. And with the many nondairy milk and milk products on the market nowadays, these are also good options that I use.
Whenever possible, whichever milk you select, still choose organic dairy products. While the estrogen levels may not be better, there are many other benefits.
What is your choice? Have you ever tried sheep milk?