Written by Dr. Brittany Buysschaert, PhD
Goat cheese is a characteristically tart cheese made from the milk of goats. It comes in hard, soft, and semi-soft varieties; most of the goat cheese we are familiar with in the US is semi-soft goat cheese. Goat cheese has likely been made for several thousand years. One of the most familiar goat cheeses is Chèvre, which is the French word for a goat as well as for goat cheese. Feta cheese is a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk.
Goat cheese is made throughout the world, with Europe, North America, Oceania, Asia, and the Middle East all producing commercial goat cheeses. The world’s largest producer of goat cheese is the South Sudan, with approximately 110,000 metric tons per year. Most goat cheese is produced and sold locally (1).
Lack of refrigeration, pasteurization, and sanitary conditions can lead to contamination of goat cheese with harmful bacteria. Therefore, much of the goat cheese produced around the world is ripened and stored in brine prior to consumption to prevent bacterial growth (2). These brined cheeses are commonly called white brined cheese and constitute more than half of all goat cheeses produced worldwide (2). Commercial goat cheese production in Europe is expanding at a much faster rate compared to traditional cheese due to less restrictive legislation regarding goat cheese (3).
The different types of goat cheese (hard, soft, or semi-soft) vary in nutrient profile. The nutrient profile of semi-soft goat cheese will be highlighted here since this is the variety most commonly consumed in the US. One 1 oz serving of goat cheese contains 103 calories. Goat cheese is a significant source of fat and protein and is a good source of Vitamin A, riboflavin, and copper.
Goat cheese is not a source of carbohydrates, containing less than one gram per serving.
Goat cheese does not contain fiber.
Goat cheese has 6 grams of protein per serving. Goat cheese is a complete protein, containing all necessary amino acids. The protein composition of goat cheese is approximately 80% casein and 20% whey.
Goat cheese contains 8.5 grams of fat per serving. This includes 6 grams of saturated fat and 2.5 grams of unsaturated fat. The majority of unsaturated fat in goat cheese in monounsaturated fat. There are several saturated fatty acids characteristic to goats milk which are not usually found in large amounts in cheese made from cow’s milk. These are capric, caproic, and caprylic fatty acids.
Vitamins & Minerals
Goat cheese is a good source of copper (18% of the FDA recommended daily value), riboflavin (15% of the FDA recommended daily value), and Vitamin A (13% of the FDA recommended daily value). Copper can prevent oxidative stress and contributes to a healthy immune system. Riboflavin reduces fatigue and helps maintain vision. Vitamin A assists with immune system function and vision.
Goat cheese contains bioactive peptides which have antioxidant activities. Bioactive peptides are fractions of proteins which can influence health or bodily function. The bioactive peptides in goat cheese are formed during the initial fermentation process as well as during the ripening of aged cheeses (4). The exact peptides formed depends on the type of goat cheese and a number of other processing factors including temperature and the amount of time the cheese ages (4). Fresh, unripened goat cheese was found to have antioxidant activity due to its bioactive peptide content (5).
Phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant activities, were 35% higher in cheeses made from free range goat milk (6). This difference between cheese made from free range goat milk and cheese made from confined goat milk was attributed to the variety of grasses free range goats were consuming. The antioxidant content of goat cheese does not differ from similarly ripened cow milk cheese (7).
Goat cheese is less allergenic and more easily digested than cheese from cow milk (8). This may allow some populations with digestive issues aggravated by traditional cheese or mild milk allergies to consume goat cheese. Goat cheese is easier to digest than traditional cheese due to its short chain fatty acid content (9). Reduced allergenicity of goat milk and goat cheese is particularly true for young children. Approximately 2.5% of children aged three and under are allergic to cow milk (10). The main protein which causes childhood allergic reactions to cow milk is present only at very low concentrations in goat milk. This means that many children who are allergic to cow milk will not have reactions to goat milk or goat cheese (2).
Goat cheese contains more monounsaturated fatty acids than cow milk cheese, which could make it healthier than traditional cheese (9). The primary monounsaturated fatty acid present in goat cheese is oleic acid. Oleic acid can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Goat cheese has anti-inflammatory properties superior to cow milk cheese (11). Some goat cheeses also have probiotic effects. These cheeses contain functional levels of lactic acid bacteria without causing noticeable changes to the taste or texture of the cheese (12). Goat milk has higher concentrations of each of the essential amino acids compared to cow milk (13). These enhanced amino acid concentrations are reflected in goat cheese.
Dairy products including goat cheese reduce inflammation (2). The protein contained in goat milk is approximately 80% casein (2). The casein in goat cheese has been linked to angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition (14). ACE inhibition can lead to lowered blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. The peptides in goat cheese which lead to ACE inhibition are formed during the fermentation and ripening processes. The lysozymes in goat cheese can protect against cell damage and inflammation in the intestines (15). Proteins present in goat milk and goat cheese are natural nutritional immunity compounds due to their native antimicrobial activities. (16). Specifically, the casein in goat milk and goat cheese has inhibitory effects against Gram positive bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes (17).
Goat cheese does not have any known negative health effects. Despite reduced allergenicity in comparison to cow milk cheese, individuals who are allergic to cow milk may also be allergic to goat cheese. Goat cheese contains a significant amount of fat, including saturated fat. It should therefore be eaten in moderation. Similar to eating any local artisanal product, consumers should make sure that locally purchased goat cheese is being made in a clean and hygienic environment before purchase.
1 serving of 100 grams of goat cheese contains:
Total Fat 36g
Saturated Fat 25g
Dietary Fiber 0g
With 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of sugar, goat cheese has a glycemic index of zero. Therefore, goat cheese is more than ok to eat on the Candida diet.
The only risks is if you have allergies to cows milk and cheese, you may be allergic to goat cheese. You should also make sure that it is made in a clean environment so you don't end up with a bacterial infection from contaminated cheese.
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1. Miller, B. A., & Lu, C. D. (2019). Current status of global dairy goat production: an overview. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 32(8), 1219–1232.
2. Lima, M. J. R., Teixeira-Lemos, E., Oliveira, J., Teixeira-Lemos, L. P., Monteiro, A., & Costa, J. M. (2018). Nutritional and health profile of goat products: focus on health benefits of goat milk. Goat Science. IntechOpen, 189-232.
3. Abbas, H. M., Hassan, F. A., El-Gawad, M. A. M. A., & Enab, A. K. (2014). Physicochemical characteristics of goat’s milk. Life Science Journal, 11(1), 307-317.
4. Théolier, J., Hammami, R., Fliss, I., & Jean, J. (2014). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of water-soluble extracts from mozzarella, gouda, swiss, and cheddar commercial cheeses produced in Canada. Dairy Science & Technology, 94(5), 427-438.
5. Hernández-Galán, L., Cardador-Martínez, A., López-del-Castillo, M., Picque, D., Spinnler, H. E., & Martín del Campo, S. T. (2017). Antioxidant and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitory activity in fresh goat cheese prepared without starter culture: a preliminary study. CyTA-Journal of Food, 15(1), 49-57.
6. Chávez-Servín, J. L., Andrade-Montemayor, H. M., Vázquez, C. V., Barreyro, A. A., García-Gasca, T., Martínez, R. A. F., ... & de la Torre-Carbot, K. (2018). Effects of feeding system, heat treatment and season on phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity in goat milk, whey and cheese. Small Ruminant Research, 160, 54-58.
7. Revilla, I., González-Martín, M. I., Vivar-Quintana, A. M., Blanco-López, M. A., Lobos-Ortega, I. A., & Hernández-Hierro, J. M. (2016). Antioxidant capacity of different cheeses: Affecting factors and prediction by near infrared spectroscopy. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(7), 5074-5082.
8. Almaas, H., Cases, A. L., Devold, T. G., Holm, H., Langsrud, T., Aabakken, L., ... & Vegarud, G. E. (2006). In vitro digestion of bovine and caprine milk by human gastric and duodenal enzymes. International Dairy Journal, 16(9), 961-968.
9. Paszczyk, B., & Łuczyńska, J. (2020). The comparison of fatty acid composition and lipid quality indices in hard cow, sheep, and goat cheeses. Foods, 9(11), 1667.
10. Vita, D., Passalacqua, G., Di Pasquale, G., Caminiti, L., Crisafulli, G., Rulli, I., & Pajno, G. B. (2007). Ass's milk in children with atopic dermatitis and cow's milk allergy: crossover comparison with goat's milk. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 18(7), 594-598.
11. Megalemou, K., Sioriki, E., Lordan, R., Dermiki, M., Nasopoulou, C., & Zabetakis, I. (2017). Evaluation of sensory and in vitro anti-thrombotic properties of traditional Greek yogurts derived from different types of milk. Heliyon, 3(1), e00227.
12. Papadopoulou, O. S., Argyri, A. A., Varzakis, E. E., Tassou, C. C., & Chorianopoulos, N. G. (2018). Greek functional feta cheese: Enhancing quality and safety using a Lactobacillus plantarum strain with probiotic potential. Food Microbiology, 74, 21-33.
13. Ceballos, L. S., Morales, E. R., de la Torre Adarve, G., Castro, J. D., Martínez, L. P., & Sampelayo, M. R. S. (2009). Composition of goat and cow milk produced under similar conditions and analyzed by identical methodology. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 22(4), 322-329.
14. van Mierlo, L. A., Arends, L. R., Streppel, M. T., Zeegers, M. P. A., Kok, F. J., Grobbee, D. E., & Geleijnse, J. M. (2006). Blood pressure response to calcium supplementation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Human Hypertension, 20(8), 571-580.
15. Carvalho, E. B., Maga, E. A., Quetz, J. S., Lima, I. F., Magalhães, H. Y., Rodrigues, F. A., ... & Lima, A. A. (2012). Goat milk with and without increased concentrations of lysozyme improves repair of intestinal cell damage induced by enteroaggregative Escherichia coli. BMC Gastroenterology, 12(1), 1-9.
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17. Triprisila, L. F., Suharjono, S., Christianto, A., & Fatchiyah, F. (2016). The comparing of antimicrobial activity of CSN1S2 protein of fresh milk and yoghurt goat breed ethawah inhibited the pathogenic bacteria. Materia Socio-Medica, 28(4), 244.
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