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Goat vs Lamb and mutton - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Goat
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Lamb and mutton

Introduction

Goats and sheep, a young sheep being named lamb, both being mammals and belonging to the Bovidae family, have many similarities. Both animals are herbivores, meaning their diet does not include meat and mostly consists of pasture plants and seeds. Both goats and sheep are hoofed, ruminant animals, with similar social behaviours 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 most often coated with wool. This is due to the fact that goats live in warmer climates, while sheep are usually found in colder weather. The tail of a goat is short and pointing up, when sheep tails are usually long and pointing down. They also have different preferences of the pasture they feed on. 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 (1).

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 produced from an adult goat is commonly called chevon and the meat from a goat slaughtered at an age younger than 12 months is named kid.

Nutrition

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

Lamb or mutton has more than double of the amount of calories, compared to 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 higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well. Goat meat on the other hand is higher in its protein concentration.

Both goat and lamb meat contain negligible amounts of carbohydrates and have a glycemic index of 0. They also both do not contain fiber.

Vitamins

Lamb meat or mutton has moderate amounts of vitamin D and vitamin B6, whereas goat meat completely lacks in those. Lamb meat is also richer in vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin 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, vitamin A and folic acid (vitamin B9). Overall lamb meat or mutton is a better source of vitamins.

Minerals

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

Health Impact

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

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

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 unfavourable level (2). 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 reduces the risk of heart problems and arteriosclerosis (3).

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 (4).

Lamb, mutton and goat meat have to be handled and cooked carefully due to the risk of Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans (5). Lamb and goat meat can also contain antibiotic resistant pathogens, such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (6).

The consumption of lamb and goat meat can be recommended to people with goiter, who have hyperthyroidism, since both meats 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 (7)

For all the positive effects these meats have on health, the consumption still has to be moderated. Much like other red meats, lamb and goat can increase the chances of colorectal and nasopharyngeal cancers, as well as lung and pancreatic cancers (8)

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 (9, 10).

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 meats are the same. For ground lamb or goat meat, as well as mixtures such as meat loaf, 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 has to be 160°F (71°C) (9, 10).

Usage over the world

The estimated world livestock numbers of sheep and goats have increased by over 20% in the years of 1990 to 2012 (11).  

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 (12).

The main exporters of sheep and lamb production in the world 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 (13).

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 (13).

In recent years the consumption of lamb, mutton and goat meat has been growing in China, South Korea and decreasing in Spain and Denmark (14)

Summary

All in all, both meats 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 people trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

Sources.

  1. https://globalanimalpartnership.org/about/news/post/how-can-you-tell-the-difference-between-sheep-and-goats/
  2. https://academic.oup.com/af/article/4/4/33/4638810
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305369283_The_quality_of_goat_meat_and_it's_impact_on_human_health
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1467-3010.2001.00179.x
  5. http://www.maso-international.cz/download/012016_19_23.pdf
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47642469_Antimicrobial_Resistance_of_Major_Foodborne_Pathogens_from_Major_Meat_Products
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40833899_Thyroid_volume_selenium_levels_and_nutritional_habits_in_a_rural_region_in_Albania
  8. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/exposures/meat-fish-dairy
  9. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/focus-on-lambfrom-farm-to-table/ct_index
  10. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/goat-from-farm-to-table/CT_Index
  11. http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/themes/en/meat/backgr_sources.html
  12. https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/animals-and-animal-products/animal-products/lamb-mutton-and-goatmeat_en
  13. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/food-farming-fisheries/farming/documents/sheep-meat-dashboard_en.pdf
  14. https://www.statista.com/search/?q=lamb+and+goat+consumption%5C&Search=&qKat=search

Infographic

Goat vs Lamb and mutton infographic
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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
Goat
5
:
Contains more Iron +98.4%
Contains more Potassium +30.6%
Contains more Copper +154.6%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains less Sodium -16.3%
Equal in Calcium - 17
Equal in Phosphorus - 188
Contains more Iron +98.4%
Contains more Potassium +30.6%
Contains more Copper +154.6%
Contains more Zinc +18.2%
Contains more Magnesium +∞%
Contains less Sodium -16.3%
Equal in Calcium - 17
Equal in Phosphorus - 188

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 Vitamin B12 +114.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +283.3%
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 Vitamin B12 +114.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +283.3%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
21
Goat
29
Lamb and mutton
Mineral Summary Score
40
Goat
32
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 the food
Protein
163%
Goat
147%
Lamb and mutton
Carbohydrates
0%
Goat
0%
Lamb and mutton
Fats
14%
Goat
97%
Lamb and mutton

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at 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 Sugars Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

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

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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 Sugars?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Sugars (0 g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Goat Lamb and mutton Opinion
Calories 143 294 Lamb and mutton
Protein 27.1 24.52 Goat
Fats 3.03 20.94 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 0 0
Cholesterol 75 97 Goat
Vitamin D 0 2 Lamb and mutton
Iron 3.73 1.88 Goat
Calcium 17 17
Potassium 405 310 Goat
Magnesium 0 23 Lamb and mutton
Sugars 0 0
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.303 0.119 Goat
Zinc 5.27 4.46 Goat
Starch
Phosphorus 201 188 Goat
Sodium 86 72 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin A 0 0
Vitamin E 0.34 0.14 Goat
Vitamin D 0 0.1 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B1 0.09 0.1 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B2 0.61 0.25 Goat
Vitamin B3 3.95 6.66 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B5 0.66 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B6 0 0.13 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin B12 1.19 2.55 Lamb and mutton
Vitamin K 1.2 4.6 Lamb and mutton
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 0.93 8.83 Goat
Monounsaturated Fat 1.36 8.82 Lamb and mutton
Polyunsaturated fat 0.23 1.51 Lamb and mutton
Tryptophan 0.403 0.287 Goat
Threonine 1.29 1.05 Goat
Isoleucine 1.371 1.183 Goat
Leucine 2.258 1.908 Goat
Lysine 2.016 2.166 Lamb and mutton
Methionine 0.726 0.629 Goat
Phenylalanine 0.941 0.998 Lamb and mutton
Valine 1.452 1.323 Goat
Histidine 0.565 0.777 Lamb and mutton
Fructose
The main source of information is USDA Food Composition Database (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dietary Guidelines for Americans is used as the primary source for advice in this web resource
Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.