Sheep’s milk is a truly functional food – easier to digest than cow’s or goat’s milk and richer in protein, vitamins & minerals. It also has an array of healthy fats and a rich supply of biopeptides - natural, health-promoting goodness.
Proteins and Lactose in Sheep’s Milk:
There are two types of protein in milk: whey and casein.
The whey proteins in sheep’s milk are a soluble, easily-digested form of protein and sheep’s milk is three times higher in this than other dairy milks, making the whole milk easier to digest.
Sheep’s milk is naturally an A2-type protein which is much easier to digest than the A1 beta- casein protein found in cow’s milk and to a lesser extent in goat’s milk. This A1 protein can be associated with digestive discomfort and is easily confused with lactose intolerance. Many people with a sensitivity to other dairy milks find they can tolerate sheep’s milk well and therefore still benefit from all the goodness in dairy.
Sheep’s milk is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals which can be hard to absorb from plants, like calcium – it contains more than any other milk; great for bone density and healthy growth. It’s a good source of Zinc, needed by many enzymes in our body and important for skin and immune health and it also has an array of B vitamins, like B12 unavailable from plants yet vital for healthy nerves. Its real uniqueness lies in its Biopeptides – tiny protein fragments needed for vital processes in our biology like reducing inflammation and protecting against allergy. Both the Asthma Research Council and the National Eczema Society recommend sheep’s milk as a valuable alternative to cow’s milk.
Sheep are vital for natural ecosystems to thrive. By grazing living plants, they constantly restore soil health naturally. Our soil should be our greatest carbon sink – by grazing pasture down to an ideal level, sheep allow roots to die back which locks carbon back below ground. As they roam, their own gut microbes fertilise our soil increasing its biodiversity (1 teaspoon of healthy soil should have more microbes than people on the planet!), they trample dead matter into the ground and aerate the soil with their cloven hooves. These very natural processes constantly give back to the soil while at the same time, the many plant nutrients from photosynthesis in young grass shoots, are converted into highly nutritious sheep’s milk. A truly sustainable system in which our health, our land and our livestock can thrive together!
The unique structure and the type of fats and proteins that sheep’s milk contains make it easier to digest and less likely to trigger sensitivities or intolerances than cow’s milk.
Sheep’s milk contains many heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as a higher proportion of ‘medium chain fatty acids’ than cow’s or goat’s milk. This enables the fat to be evenly distributed throughout the milk as small globules (naturally homogenised) which, as well as giving it a wonderful creamy taste, naturally aids digestion and can help with cholesterol control.
Eating a plant-rich diet is important for our health – plants are packed with fibre and micro-goodness (so called phytonutrients) to nurture our gut health and impact a long healthy life. But some very important nutrients like protein, Calcium and Vit B12 can be very hard to absorb from plants. Sheep milk provides these vital nutrients and is easy to digest, while helping to restore our land too - a very sustainable food as part of a ‘Flexitarian’ or ‘Climatarian’ diet, designed to benefit people and planet!
Copyright Lucy Williamson