There is another animal contender on the milk block — sheep. This creamy milk is quite similar to goats’ milk; in fact, in many cases, it’s healthier.
One cup of sheep milk contains more calcium, carbohydrates and protein than its goat counterpart.
Sheep milk is also higher in many vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate and magnesium than both goat and cow milk.
Like goats’ milk, sheep’s milk is easily digestible by the body, thanks to small fat globules that make it easier on your digestive tract.
It contains similar levels of short- and medium-chain fatty acids as goat milk, so it’s less irritating. And those who can’t get used to the taste of goat milk might prefer sheep milk; it’s less tangy.
So why isn’t everyone gulping down sheep milk?
Its high fat content is a turnoff for many.
While the fats are mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (i.e. good-for-you fats), one cup contains almost double the amount as cow and goat milk, a concern for those watching their fat intake.
Sheep milk is much harder to find as well.
While goat milk is slowly making its way onto supermarket shelves, your best bet for buying sheep milk is still your local farmers’ market.
If you are able to buy it, you can freeze sheep milk and unfreeze as needed; the flavor will remain the same.
Can’t get your hands on sheep milk? Eat your cheese! Some of the most popular Mediterranean types, like feta, Rocquefort, Manchego, Pecorino Romano and ricotta are all made from the animal.
Sheep yogurt is also becoming more popular; keep your eyes peeled for that in stores.
Health Benefits Of Sheeps Milk
Sheep’s milk contains about twice the fat of cow’s milk. But this also means twice the ‘healthy’ fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, including Omega 3 & 6). The same goes for Goat’s milk.
The body needs healthy fats for many bodily functions, like absorbing vitamins. Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
Sheep milk is also rich in medium chain fatty acids or triglycerides (MCTs) – about 25% of the fat content.
MCTs can benefit weight control by promoting ‘fullness’, reducing fat deposits, increasing energy expenditure and being more easily metabolised (turned into energy in the body).
The fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than those in either cow or goat milk so the milk is more homogeneous. The smaller fat globules are often more easily digested and less likely to cause high cholesterol.
While the high saturated fat content of sheep milk may suggest that we should eat less to reduce the risk of heart disease, the high proportion of ‘healthy’ fats may well reduce or eliminate this risk.
At present there is not enough research to know either way.
It is clear that cultures with diets high in sheep milk, such as the famously healthy ‘Mediterranean diet’, do enjoy lower rates of heart disease which suggests sheep milk is not a risk factor.
With the rich combination of minerals and nutrients found in sheep milk, including vitamins A and vitamin E, your immune system can get a solid healthy boost.
Vitamins A and E both act as antioxidants within the body.
Seeking out free radicals and eliminating them from the system.
Thus preventing the onset of chronic disease and oxidative stress.
This type of milk is also very good for improving the health and appearance of the skin, mainly through the activity of vitamin E.
The nucleosides and nucleotides found in high quantities in sheep milk (at least 50x higher than those levels found in cow milk) have been linked to lower risks of cancer.
Better cell growth and oxidative stress throughout the body.
This can prevent the oxidative stress of free radicals from causing healthy cells to mutate.
Which is one of the ways that cancer can begin to spread.
Growth and Development
When it comes to protein content, non-human milks are excellent sources.
But sheep milk is considered the best.
With 5.4 grams of protein per 100 grams of milk, sheep milk is better than cow milk (3.2 grams), goat milk (3.1 grams) and buffalo milk (4.5 grams).
This makes sheep milk extremely important for growth and development.
As complete proteins are essential for the production of tissues, cells and bone matter in the body.
Furthermore, protein is a great form of usable, easily accessible energy that keeps you active and operating normally.
Low Cholesterol Levels
It’s true that sheep milk contains nearly twice as much fat as cow milk, but it must be remembered that not all fats are bad.
In fact, monounsaturated fats, like those found in sheep milk, can actually help to lower total cholesterol in the body.
This can help to prevent the onset of certain cardiovascular conditions.
Such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes, as well as coronary heart disease.
Medium-chain triglycerides also make up about 25% of the fat content in sheep milk.
And these have been connected to reducing fat deposits in the body and improving the conversion of protein into energy.
Whenever possible, choose organic products.
These products are produced in an environmentally friendly way and more attention is given to the welfare of the animals. Organic sheep milk is also nutritionally superior to non organic.
A study reported in the August 2010 of the “Journal of Dairy Research” found that milk from organic sheep had higher levels of monounsaturated fat, conjugated linoleic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids.
All these nutrients exert health-promoting benefits including protection from heart disease.
Final Word of Warning
As mentioned above, sheep milk is quite high in fat. So if you are currently suffering from obesity or other weight-related conditions.
Using sheep milk as a source of your nutrients may not be the wisest choice.
The higher level of calories in this alternative to cow milk can also make weight loss more difficult if you aren’t conscious of your intake.
Speak with a medical professional or a nutritionist to ensure that changing to sheep milk is the best choice for your personal diet.