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Goat vs Lamb and mutton - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on November 29, 2020
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Goat
vs
Lamb and mutton

Summary

All in all, both types of meat can be equally recommended for consumption depending on personal preference and health status.

Lamb meat is richer in vitamins, and goat meat is richer in minerals. Lamb meat has more fat and cholesterol and can be the right choice for people who prioritize organoleptic qualities. In contrast, goat meat has lower amounts of fat and more protein and can be advisable for leading a healthier lifestyle. 

Introduction

Goats and sheep, a young sheep being named lamb, both being mammals and belonging to the Bovidae family, have many similarities while also having quite a few differences. In this article, we will be comparing the meat of both animals, mainly focusing on their nutrition and impact on health.

General Information

Both goats and sheep are herbivores, meaning their diet does not include meat and primarily consists of pasture plants and seeds. Both goats and sheep are hoofed, ruminant animals with similar social behaviors and are often kept in the same group.

For all of their similarities, they have quite a few differences. They belong to separate species and have distinct physical appearances. Goats have horns and are covered in a fur coat, whereas hornless sheep are often coated with wool. This is due to the fact that goats live in warmer climates, while sheep are usually found in colder weather. A goat’s tail is short and pointing up, while sheep’s tails are usually long and pointing down. They also have different preferences for the pasture on which they feed. Goats like to graze grass, but their long neck makes it easier for them to eat plants that are positioned higher, whereas sheep usually forage at hoof level.

Classification

Lamb, mutton, or hogget are all names for the meat that comes from sheep. The difference is, ‘lamb’ is the meat from a young sheep, whereas ‘mutton’ or ‘hogget’ are names for the meat of a fully grown sheep, slaughtered at around two or three years of age. Usually, the darker the meat is, the older the animal is.

The meat from goat is often simply referred to as goat meat. If produced from an adult goat, it is also commonly called chevon, while meat from a goat slaughtered at an age younger than 12 months is named cabrito or kid.

Nutrition

Both goat and lamb meats are classified as red meats; however, their nutritional composition is quite different.

The nutritional information below is presented for cooked, domestic lamb, trimmed to 1/4” fat and roasted goat meat.

Lamb/ mutton has more than twice as many calories as goat meat. Lamb meat also contains almost ten times more fat and consequently more cholesterol. Naturally, lamb meat is higher in saturated fats but also richer in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Goat meat, on the other hand, is higher in protein concentration.

Both goat and lamb meat contain negligible amounts of carbohydrates and have a glycemic index of 0. Neither of them contains fiber.

Vitamins

Lamb/ mutton has moderate amounts of vitamin D and vitamin B6, whereas goat meat completely lacks those. Lamb contains over three times more folate. It is also richer in vitamins B1, B3, B5, vitamin B12, and vitamin K. 

Goat meat, on the other hand, has higher concentration levels of vitamin E and vitamin B2. Both have insufficient or no amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A. 

Overall, lamb meat or mutton is a better source of vitamins.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Goat
2
:
Contains more Vitamin E +142.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +144%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +260%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +114.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +283.3%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 7% 0% 0% 23% 141% 75% 0% 0% 4% 149% 3%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 0% 3% 3% 0% 25% 58% 125% 40% 30% 14% 319% 12%
Contains more Vitamin E +142.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +144%
Contains more Vitamin D +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +68.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +∞%
Contains more Folate +260%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +114.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +283.3%

Minerals

Goat meat is higher in iron, potassium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus, whereas lamb meat contains more magnesium. Lamb meat or mutton is also lower in sodium. Both types of meat contain the same amounts of calcium. 

Goat meat, in general, is a better source of minerals.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains more Iron +98.4%
Contains more Potassium +30.6%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Copper +154.6%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains less Sodium -16.3%
Equal in Calcium - 17
Equal in Phosphorus - 188
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 6% 140% 0% 87% 36% 12% 144% 101%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 6% 71% 17% 81% 28% 10% 122% 40%
Contains more Iron +98.4%
Contains more Potassium +30.6%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Copper +154.6%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains less Sodium -16.3%
Equal in Calcium - 17
Equal in Phosphorus - 188

Health Impact

Goat meat, having more protein and less fat than lamb and mutton, is considered to be leaner and overall a healthier choice. However, when it comes to micronutrients, both contain different valuable minerals and vitamins.

The most common limiting amino acids found in food are lysine, threonine, and tryptophan, which are present in both types of meat. Goat meat is richer in threonine and tryptophan; however, surprisingly, lamb meat has a higher lysine concentration.

Research has shown that goat meat has a relatively favorable polyunsaturated fatty acid to saturated fatty acid ratio, making it a healthier choice, especially for people with cardiovascular issues. Grain feeding goats increases this ratio; however, it also increases the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio to an unfavorable level (1). 

Alternatively, letting ruminants feed on green grass in pastures has been proven to lead to higher percentages of omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing levels of omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart problems and arteriosclerosis (2).

Lamb meat has the highest amount of conjugated linoleic acid, among other ruminant meats. Conjugated linoleic acid has been found to have anticarcinogenic and antiatherogenic qualities, proving beneficial in cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes (3).

Lamb, mutton, and goat meat have to be handled and cooked carefully due to the risk of Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans (4). Lamb and goat meat can also contain antibiotic-resistant pathogens, such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (5).

The consumption of lamb and goat meat can be recommended to people with goiter who have hyperthyroidism since both have been proven to be associated with lower levels of thyroid volume. One study showed that mean thyroid volume was significantly lower in those subjects who consumed lamb or goat meat more than once a week (6)

For all the positive effects these types of meat have on health, their consumption still has to be moderated. Much like other red meat, lamb and goat can increase the chances of colorectal and nasopharyngeal cancers, as well as lung and pancreatic cancers (7)

Antibiotics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are permitted to be used in both goats and lambs slaughtered for meat to prevent or treat diseases, with a required “withdrawal” period before the slaughter of the animals is legal. However, the use of hormones for growth promotion is only allowed in lambs and not goats (8, 9).

Prices

Goat meat is cheaper by around 2 dollars.

Cooking Temperatures

According to the recommendations by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services, cooking temperatures for both types of meat are the same. For ground lamb or goat meat, as well as mixtures such as meatloaf, the safest minimum internal temperature is 145°F (63°C),  preferably measured by a food thermometer before removing the meat from the heat source. To cook all lamb or goat meat chops, steaks and roasts, the minimum internal temperature must be 160°F (71°C) (8, 9).

Usage over the world

The estimated world livestock numbers of sheep and goats have increased by over 20% from 1990 to 2012 (10).  

Sheep are kept in much larger quantities in the European Union, as opposed to goats. There are over 70 million sheep and goats in the EU, with sheep making up about 75% of that number (11).

The leading exporters of sheep and lamb production globally are New Zealand and Australia, with over 200 thousand tonnes a year. The United Kingdom is next in line with less than 50 thousand tonnes of sheep and goat products per year (12).

The main importers of goat and meat products in the world are China and Hong Kong, followed by the United States and the European Union (12).

In recent years the consumption of lamb, mutton, and goat meat has been growing in China, South Korea and decreasing in Spain and Denmark (13)

Sources.

  1. https://academic.oup.com/af/article/4/4/33/4638810
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305369283
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1467-3010.2001.00179.x
  4. http://www.maso-international.cz/download/012016_19_23.pdf
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47642469
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40833899
  7. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/exposures/meat-fish-dairy
  8. Lamb From Farm to Table
  9. Goat From Farm to Table
  10. http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/themes/en/meat/backgr_sources.html
  11. Lamb, mutton and goatmeat
  12. SHEEP & GOAT - MARKET SITUATION - DASHBOARD
  13. Lamb and goat consumption
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Goat vs Lamb and mutton infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Goat Lamb and mutton
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugar Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Goat Lamb and mutton Opinion
Net carbs 0g 0g
Protein 27.1g 24.52g Goat
Fats 3.03g 20.94g Lamb and mutton
Carbs 0g 0g
Calories 143kcal 294kcal Lamb and mutton
Starch g g
Fructose g g
Sugar 0g 0g
Fiber 0g 0g
Calcium 17mg 17mg
Iron 3.73mg 1.88mg Goat
Magnesium 0mg 23mg Lamb and mutton
Phosphorus 201mg 188mg Goat
Potassium 405mg 310mg Goat
Sodium 86mg 72mg Lamb and mutton
Zinc 5.27mg 4.46mg Goat
Copper 0.303mg 0.119mg Goat
Vitamin A 0IU 0IU
Vitamin E 0.34mg 0.14mg Goat
Vitamin D 0IU 2IU Lamb and mutton
Vitamin D 0µg 0.1µg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin C 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B1 0.09mg 0.1mg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B2 0.61mg 0.25mg Goat
Vitamin B3 3.95mg 6.66mg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B5 mg 0.66mg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B6 0mg 0.13mg Lamb and mutton
Folate 5µg 18µg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B12 1.19µg 2.55µg Lamb and mutton
Vitamin K 1.2µg 4.6µg Lamb and mutton
Tryptophan 0.403mg 0.287mg Goat
Threonine 1.29mg 1.05mg Goat
Isoleucine 1.371mg 1.183mg Goat
Leucine 2.258mg 1.908mg Goat
Lysine 2.016mg 2.166mg Lamb and mutton
Methionine 0.726mg 0.629mg Goat
Phenylalanine 0.941mg 0.998mg Lamb and mutton
Valine 1.452mg 1.323mg Goat
Histidine 0.565mg 0.777mg Lamb and mutton
Cholesterol 75mg 97mg Goat
Trans Fat g g
Saturated Fat 0.93g 8.83g Goat
Monounsaturated Fat 1.36g 8.82g Lamb and mutton
Polyunsaturated fat 0.23g 1.51g Lamb and mutton

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Goat Lamb and mutton
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
33
Goat
52
Lamb and mutton
Mineral Summary Score
65
Goat
46
Lamb and mutton

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
163%
Goat
147%
Lamb and mutton
Carbohydrates
0%
Goat
0%
Lamb and mutton
Fats
14%
Goat
97%
Lamb and mutton

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Lamb and mutton
Lamb and mutton contains less Sodium (difference - 14mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Lamb and mutton
Lamb and mutton is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Goat
Goat is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 22mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Goat
Goat is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 7.9g)
Which food is cheaper?
Goat
Goat is cheaper (difference - $0.3)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Goat
Goat is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sugar?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugar (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Goat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175304/nutrients
  2. Lamb and mutton - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172480/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.