Humans have been consuming sheep milk products for thousands of years. Not only does it have a full, creamy flavour it is also rich in vitamins A, B, and E, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. When compared to cows milk, sheep milk is higher in energy, protein, calcium and iron making it an excellent dairy option.
High levels of carnitine in sheep milk1 help the body metabolise fatty acids, a process which plays a critical role in energy production. That’s why sheep milk is a favourite of high performance athletes.
Sheep milk has relatively high levels of protein, containing up to 45% more protein than cow milk.2, 3 It also contains a large range of proteins, not found in cow milk, that aid with cellular development and immune responses4.
Iron is critical to normal human functioning yet is one of the leading essential mineral deficiencies worldwide.5 Sheep produce milk that contains one of the highest iron levels of any mammal, containing up to 50% more iron than cow’s milk.6
Calcium is important for overall health. Almost every cell in your body uses calcium in some way. Calcium content in sheep milk can vary between 25% and 35% more calcium than in cows milk.2, 3, 6
Many who have intolerances or sensitivities to cow’s milk are able to consume sheep milk dairy products without concern. Sheep milk also contains a higher level of medium-short-chain fatty acids which aids the absorption of lactose and limits cholesterol deposits.
1. Woollard, D. C., Indyk, H. E., & Woollard, G. A. (1999). Carnitine in milk: A survey of content, distribution and temporal variation. Food Chemistry, 66, 121-127.
2. Park, Y. W., Juárezb, M., Ramosc, M., & Haenleind, G. F. W. (2007). Physico-chemical characteristics of goat and sheep milk. Small Ruminant Research, 68(1-2), 88-113.
3. Jandal, J. M. 1996. Comparative aspects of goat and sheep milk. Small Rumin. Res. 22:177-185.
4. Ha M, Sabherwal M, Duncan E, Stevens S, Stockwell P, et al. (2015) In-Depth Characterization of Sheep (Ovis aries) Milk Whey Proteome and Comparison with Cow (Bos taurus).
5. Umbreit J (2005) Iron deficiency: a concise review. Am J Hematol 78(3):225–231
6. Raynal-Ljutovac K, Lagriffoul G, Paccard P, Guillet I, Chilliard Y (2008) Composition of goat and sheep milk products: an update. Small Ruminant Research 79, 57–72.