If you’re a low FODMAPer, you might be looking for alternatives to cow’s milk, which is high FODMAP due to excess lactose. One option, of course, is lactose-free cow’s milk. There are also plant-based milks, but those can cause digestive issues, too. What about goat milk? Could you use this instead of cow’s milk? Not really.
Goat milk is not low FODMAP. An 8-ounce serving of goat milk contains an average of 9.6 grams of lactose. While goat milk has less lactose per serving than cow’s milk, the lactose content of goat milk still far exceeds published low FODMAP guidelines.
In this post, we’ll look at the lactose content of goat’s milk and how it compares to cow’s milk. We’ll also briefly discuss sheep’s milk. I know goats and sheep are different animals, but since we’re comparing animal milks, this seems like a good place to discuss sheep milk, too.
FODMAPs in Goat Milk
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Since I’m based in the United States and write mostly for a US audience, I usually get nutrition data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Data Central database. This database contains information on thousands of different foods. However, goat milk isn’t as popular in the US as in other countries, so Food Data Central doesn’t have much information to offer.
Fortunately, several European countries have high-quality nutrition databases. I was able to get good information about goat milk from France’s Ciqual database.
Thus far, the only identified FODMAP in goat milk is lactose. According to low FODMAP researchers, lactose content should be less than 3 grams per serving. Anything above that amount is classified as high FODMAP.1
As shown in the table below, the lactose content of goat milk far exceeds low FODMAP guidelines. A standard serving of 8 ounces of goat milk contains between 9 and 10 grams of lactose, varying a bit based on fat content.
Lactose Content of Goat Milk
|Whole (full fat)||9.8||6.4|
Goat Milk versus Cow’s Milk
Some claim that people who have trouble digesting dairy may have better experiences with goat milk than cow’s milk, due to its lower lactose content.3 And it’s true that goat milk does have less lactose than cow’s milk. But both types of milk still exceed low FODMAP guidelines for lactose content.
You can read much more about cow’s milk, including how manufacturers create lactose-free milk, in my post on FODMAPs in milk. The table below summarizes some of that information, showing the lactose content of cow’s milk at different fat levels.
Lactose Content of Cow’s Milk
|Reduced Fat (2%)||12.2||4.7|
|Low Fat (1%)||12.2||2.4|
|Fat Free (Skim or 0%)||12.3||.61|
Comparing the two tables, you can see that an 8-ounce serving of goat milk averages 9.6 grams of lactose, while an 8-ounce serving of cow’s milk averages 12.3 grams of lactose. Both lactose values are far above those suggested for low FODMAP followers.
It’s important to note that some people react to the A1 casein protein in cow’s milk, either instead of or in addition to lactose. It turns out that goat’s milk contains almost no A1 casein protein.5 So, people who seem to have less digestive trouble with goat’s milk could benefit from the lower casein content, rather than the lower lactose content.
The bottom line here is that goat’s milk is not low FODMAP. If you’re looking for a low lactose, low FODMAP alternative to cow’s milk, goat’s milk isn’t an option. But what about other animal milks, like sheep’s milk?
Is Sheep Milk Low FODMAP?
Sheep milk isn’t a popular beverage in the United States. Instead, most sheep’s milk in the US is consumed in the form of cheese, such as feta, manchego and halloumi. So, you probably never wondered if sheep’s milk is a viable alternative to cow’s milk. But, if you’re curious, no, sheep milk isn’t a good option for low FODMAPers.
Sheep milk is not low FODMAP. An 8-ounce serving of whole (full fat) sheep’s milk has over 10 grams of lactose. This is less lactose than found in cow’s milk, but more lactose than found in goat milk. However, all three milks exceed published guidelines for lactose, so are not low FODMAP foods.
Moreover, the fat content of sheep’s milk is much higher than cow’s milk or goat’s milk. I was only able to locate data for whole (full fat) sheep’s milk, but the differences are still evident in the table below.
Sheep versus Goat versus Cow’s Milk
Whole sheep’s milk has more than twice as much fat as cow’s and goat milk. And about a third of the fat in sheep’s milk is saturated fat.2 So, not only is sheep milk not a low FODMAP option, it’s not a great option for those who must monitor fat intake, either.
Conclusion: Goat Milk is Not Low FODMAP
The truth is, no animal milk can be classified as low FODMAP, unless steps are taken to remove the lactose. Though goat milk has less lactose than cow’s milk, it’s still classified as high lactose and, therefore, as a high FODMAP.
I’ve seen plenty of lactose-free cow’s milk on grocery store shelves, but I’ve never seen lactose-free goat’s milk. So, it’s pretty safe to say that if you find goat’s milk at your local store, it probably contains high amounts of lactose and is high FODMAP.
That said, goat milk has very little of the casein milk protein that causes digestive issues in some people. If you’ve tried A2 milk in the past and have done well with it, then you’re likely reacting to casein rather than lactose (the A1 casein protein is removed from A2 milk). In that case, you may want to give goat milk a try.
What kind of low FODMAP milk do you use ? Plant-based? Lactose-free dairy milk? What do you like about it? Let me know in the comments. I currently use FairLife lactose-free cow’s milk, but am open to trying something new.
About the Author
Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.