Sheep milk can for all intents and purposes be considered a functional food or one belonging to that category which, if consumed as part of a balanced diet, has a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition due to the fact that it lowers the risk of certain diseases.
For example, sheep milk contains CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), an essential fatty acid. CLA content, which is generated in ruminants due to microbial biohydrogenation of polyunsaturated fat in the diet, can be extremely varied in food as it not only depends on the genetic and physiological factors of the animal but also on the composition of its diet.
Countless studies have shown that sheep milk has a higher CLA content thanks to the sheeps’ diet which contains fresh grass from pastures.
Bioactive peptides also contribute to rendering sheep milk an important functional food. The peptide inhibitors of the Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) may have an antihypertensive effect as ACE is one of the main regulators of blood pressure. Peptides are also powerful antioxidants and antimicrobials.
Moreover, the casein macropeptide, and especially trypsin, are human platelet aggregation inhibitors. The antithrombic activity is greater than that of cow’s milk and goat milk.
A lot more still needs to be explored. For example, other research projects on the positive effects of Rumenic acid, which is contained in sheep milk and is anticancer and prevents cardiovascular diseases, should be started up.