By Abbey Sharp, RD, a2 Milk™ Council Member
While it used to be a simple decision of what to put in your coffee (do you take milk or cream?), today our venture down the dairy aisle may feel riddled with decision overload. While traditional cow’s milk is still a popular choice, there is a growing number of consumers who have had to refrain from their beloved milk due to some unpleasant digestive symptoms it may illicit. While most people who experience gastrointestinal side effects after consuming dairy will assume it’s the lactose causing the issue, we now know that for many, it may actually be a unique protein found in most dairy cow milk called the A1 beta-casein protein.
When looking for an option that is lower in A1 protein, a lot of consumers may want to experiment with a2 milk™ or goat milk. So, to help you make the best decision for your family, we’ve broken down the differences.
Whole a2 milk™ and whole goat milk stack up fairly similarly in terms of nutrition stats. a2 milk™ has slightly fewer calories, less fat, and less saturated fat, while goat milk has slightly more protein, and calcium.
9 grams protein
11.5 grams carbohydrates
11 grams fat
6.5 grams saturated fat
7% vitamin D
10% vitamin A
8 grams protein
13 grams carbohydrates
9 grams fat
5 grams saturated fat
15% vitamin D
15% vitamin A
Goat milk also contains much less (about 90% less) A1 beta-casein protein compared to traditional dairy milk (which contains a mixture of A1 and A2 casein protein.) However, a2 Milk™ is derived from cows that exclusively produce the A2 beta-casein protein so you can be sure that it is A1 protein-free.
It’s often also noted that goat milk contains slightly smaller fat globules compared to cow’s milk, about 2.6 um vs 3.5 um in diameter, respectively. Some experts have speculated that these smaller fat globules make it easier for our bodies to break down, but we don’t have solid evidence to substantiate this theory.
Finally, both goat milk and a2 Milk™ contain lactose with goat milk offering a very slightly lower lactose content. However, the difference is negligible (about 11 grams vs 12 grams per cup) so is unlikely to contribute to differences in tolerance, particularly for those who can tolerate some lactose.
Generally speaking, for people who can tolerate lactose, both a2 milk™ and goat milk are considered easier to digest than traditional cow’s milk.
If you’re used to drinking traditional cow’s milk, you already know what a2 milk™ tastes like. It’s creamy, fresh, mildly sweet and relatively neutral - ideal for adding to smoothies, baking, cereal or just for drinking straight up.
Goat milk is typically described as being a little sweeter than cow’s milk, with a stronger, more distinct grassy, goaty or “earthy” flavour. A good way to imagine this flavour is to think about how chevre tastes,but imagine it in fluid milk.
Shelf life is one area where a2 Milk™ is absolutely superior. Pasteurized goat milk typically lasts about 5 days in the fridge, while a2 milk™ stays fresh for a minimum 45 to 50 days in the fridge thanks to the ultra-pasteurization process. After opening, it is best to consume your a2 milk™ within 7 to 10 days to maintain the freshest milk flavour.
Both a2 Milk™ and goat milk can be used for drinking, baking, oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, ice cream and other recipes. If you’re used to the clean crisp flavour of traditional cow’s milk, you’ll likely want to use a2 Milk™ in most of your recipes, as goat milk may impart a stronger more obvious “goaty” flavour which may alter the end result.
While individual retailers will vary in price, in general, goat milk costs over a dollar more than a2 Milk™
Most available goat milk formulas are exclusively available as a whole milk variety. a2 Milk™ is proud to offer its milk in 1%, 2% and whole 3.25% varieties to ensure there is an option for different dietary and taste preferences.
While goat milk products are now becoming more accessible at larger grocers or health food grocers, we are excited that a2 Milk™ is now available at all of Canada’s major retailers including Sobey’s, Safeway, Longos, Loblaws and more!
The type of milk you choose for your family depends on a variety of factors including nutrition, taste, cost and accessibility. While both goat milk and a2 Milk™ are comparatively nutritious options, if your family is looking for an easier-to-digest option that tastes like the dairy milk they already love, we encourage you to give a2 Milk™ a try.