The Benefits of Sheep Milk
Table of Contents
Jones Family Farm’s grass-fed sheep milk has a mild and creamy taste and is exceptionally nutritious. It’s an eco-friendly, A2 protein milk that promotes overall health and is easily digested. This makes it a stomach-friendly alternative milk that can be a good option for everyone, including those with dairy intolerance!
It’s suitable for drinking straight, pouring on cereal, adding to your coffee, baking, cooking (check out our sheep milk recipe collection), and even nutraceuticals.
On this page, we provide a broad overview of both the environmental and health benefits associated with consuming sheep milk products.
Environmental Benefits Overview
Sheep milk is gaining recognition for its numerous environmental benefits. As a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative, sheep milk production has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to traditional dairy farming.
Sheep are known for their efficient grazing habits and ability to thrive on marginal lands unsuitable for other agricultural purposes. Their grazing can help maintain biodiversity and prevent soil erosion.
Additionally, sheep require less water and feed compared to larger dairy animals, making them a more resource-efficient choice, particularly in certain parts of New Zealand.
The production of sheep milk also generates lower greenhouse gas emissions, further reducing the carbon footprint associated with farming.
By embracing sheep milk, consumers can support an environmentally friendly and sustainable dairy industry, promoting responsible farming practices and mitigating the environmental challenges posed in some areas by traditional milk production.
We have a more in-depth article on the environmental impacts of farming if you’re interested.
You can learn more about how the Joneses look after their environment here.
Health Benefits Overview
Opting for A2 sheep’s milk products can serve as an excellent dairy substitute for individuals with sensitive stomachs, helping to alleviate potential digestive discomfort associated with A1 milk.
Naturally, sheep milk contains only type A2 beta caseins and no A1 protein. A2 protein milk seems to be more easily digestible than A1 protein-containing milk. This protein profile is part of why researchers believe people can consume sheep’s milk when other animal milk varieties give them an upset stomach.
Yes, sheep milk does contain lactose. However, it’s worth highlighting a study involving 59 New Zealand women.
The study found that digestive discomfort caused by drinking lactose-containing milk improved when milk that only contained A2 beta-casein was used. As mentioned in the section on A2 milk above, sheep milk is an A2 protein milk.
Therefore, despite the fact that sheep milk does have lactose in it, it might be a viable alternative for anyone who suspects they suffer from lactose intolerance!
Sheep milk contains more short-medium chain fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids break down quicker in the body and can help with lactose absorption.
Protein, Vitamins & Minerals
Sheep milk has more protein and calcium than cow’s milk (both are nearly double!) and contains all nine essential amino acids.
It’s higher in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, medium-chain fatty acids, linoleic acids and vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, D & E.
Our article on the nutritional composition of sheep milk delves into this in more detail.
Supports Overall Health
The combination of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals helps support gut health and healthy hearts and is shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
Sheep milk has more lactoferrin than cow or goat milk. Lactoferrin has antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects, enhancing the immune function of the body (source and further detail in the section below).
All of these factors help contribute to our overall health and well-being.
Immune system boost
With the rich combination of minerals and nutrients found in sheep milk, including vitamin 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.
Sheep milk for 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, it is better than cow milk (3.2 grams), goat milk (3.1 grams) and buffalo milk (4.5 grams).
Bone mineral density
As with varieties of milk, sheep milk contains an impressive array of essential minerals, including zinc, magnesium and calcium. These are all important components for boosting bone mineral density in the body, which tends to decrease as we age.
More Details on the Numerous Health Benefits of Sheep’s Milk
Presently, a sedentary way of life, insufficient physical activity, and an imbalanced diet contribute to the onset of numerous diseases. Heightened consumer awareness about foods containing biologically active ingredients that directly benefit our health has increased.
In this section, we provide some more detail on the health benefits of sheep’s milk to the human body. Our main sources are listed in the reference section below and linked throughout.
Functional food plays an essential role in human health. Sheep’s milk and its products are a valuable source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and other bioactive substances that benefit the body. Many biopeptides found in milk have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sheep’s milk also contains many biologically active and antioxidant substances. The high content of valuable nutrients and biologically active substances in sheep’s milk proves the dietary value of this milk and the products derived from it.
Cultured milk products like yoghurt and kefir have been shown to have several health-promoting effects including helping reduce obesity and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues and illnesses like type 2 diabetes.
Sheep’s milk is used in the production of prebiotics and probiotics, as an ingredient in infant formulas, and for the production of nutraceuticals.
Animal Milk Composition: Cow vs Goat vs Sheep
The bioactive substances of sheep’s milk also show anticancer properties. Sheep’s milk, thanks to its content of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Orotic Acid, may help prevent type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
Sheep milk, as a product rich in bioactive substances, can be used as a medical aid to support the body in the fight against neurological and cancer diseases. It has been found that Orotic acid improves the metabolism of folic acid and vitamin B12. The presence of orotate in mammals is important to the development of the central nervous system.
An important endogenous amino acid of sheep’s milk protein is Proline. Proline and Hydroxyproline are found in the highest amounts in sheep milk proteins and collagen.
Functions of Proline include helping form collagen, regenerating cartilage, forming connective tissue, repairing skin damage and wounds, healing the gut lining, and repairing joints.
It seems like an oxymoron. Fattier milk without the fatty residue; comes from a similar sub-family as a goat but without the gamey flavour; sweet? The difference between sheep, goat, and cow milk is essentially fat and protein composition.
Amino Acid Composition of Animal Milk: Cow vs Goat vs Sheep
What Milk Proteins Do in the Human Body
There are two main types of protein in milk: casein, which makes up about 80% and whey proteins, which make up 20%. In the whey proteins, there are some “ingredients” like lysozyme, lactoperoxidase, and lactoferrin.
In a 2019 study, they found that the protein components in sheep milk, especially lactoferrin. One interesting thing about lactoferrin is that it acts as an antioxidant. By binding to iron ions, it helps stop the growth of certain microorganisms such as bacteria, prevents infections, and reduces inflammation.
Now, when it comes to sheep milk, it has been found that it has the most lactoferrin compared to other types of milk.
Another study in 2020 showed that lactoferrin can help improve memory and reduce oxidative stress in a part of the brain called the hippocampus.
Sheep Milk: Lactose
A 2020 research study involving 59 New Zealand women found that individuals experiencing lactose malabsorption (aka lactose intolerance) and digestive discomfort related to lactose-containing milk reported improvements in their digestive discomfort when consuming milk that only contained A2 beta-casein.
Sheep milk is an A2 protein milk, therefore, even though sheep milk has lactose in it, it may be a good alternative milk for anyone who suspects they suffer from lactose intolerance!
The Importance of Fatty Acids
Fatty acids in sheep milk are vital for our health; they are needed for the proper development of the nervous system and growth in general. They include monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol.
It also has more short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids (AgReseach’s table below for a full breakdown). Unique to sheep milk, this composition may ease digestion and aid lactose absorption, making it a potentially gentler option for those with more sensitive guts.
Lipids and Fatty Acids of Animal Milk: Cow vs Goat vs Sheep
The Importance of Different Vitamins and Minerals
Sheep milk is highly nutritious as it is richer in vitamins A, B and E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than cow’s milk.
It contains about one-third more energy than cow or goat milk (making it ideal for people recovering from illness and even for athletes).
B vitamins are important in the development of the brain and the functioning of the nervous system. Some research shows that people with depression have lower concentrations of vitamins B3 and B6.
Vitamin B5 (D-pantothenic acid) is a precursor to coenzyme A (CoA), which helps to regulate the metabolism of carbs, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.
In the brain, CoA helps create myelin, a layer or sheath that surrounds nerves, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy can cause adverse effects on the child’s development, such as speech disorders and concentration problems. And we all know that folic acid/folate is essential for a healthy pregnancy and sheep milk contains plenty!
Vitamin Content of Animal Milk: Sheep vs Cow vs Goat