Goat Cheese: Is It Healthy?

3 minute read

Yes, say 5/5 experts.

Goat cheese
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

All of our experts are ready to order, and they’d all like a crumbing of goat cheese on the salad, please.

We know nutrition isn’t the first thing on your mind when you spread creamy, tangy goat cheese on a hot piece of toast. But though it is indulgent, it’s not as bad as you think, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, who is such a fan of goat cheese that she even owns a goat. A 1-oz serving has 75 calories and 6 grams of fat, much of it saturated. But that’s less than some other soft cheese, she says.

Goat cheese also gives you 5 grams of protein and 40 mg calcium, along with about 3% of your daily iron recommendations.

All of that can even give goat an edge over cow milk. Research from Javier Díaz Castro, professor in the department of physiology at the University of Granada in Spain, suggests that at least in rats, goat milk, compared to cow milk, increases absorption of iron and improves bone formation and the bioavailability of certain minerals.

But we’re not gonna kid you: many of our experts skipped right past the nutritionals and into pure cheese hedonism. “I consider good goat cheese, great bread and fine wine about the best culinary combination the planet has ever devised,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “This is not a health food! But then again, pleasure is good for health, and as an occasional treat for those who love it as we do, goat cheese is very pleasurable stuff.”

It can be especially pleasurable for some people who can’t deal with cow’s milk, adds Walter Vetter, professor of food chemistry at the University of Hohenheim in Germany who’s studied the (very strong) flavor compounds in goat cheese. “In many instances goat cheese can be consumed by people allergic to cow’s milk,” Vetter says.

“Goat cheese stands out due to its ease to digest,” says Cathy Strange, the global cheese buyer for Whole Foods Market. “The protein structure is different from other animals’ milk; it’s easier to breakdown because the fat does not separate.”

We don’t need more goading than that. Grab a friend, and grab some goat: it’s chevre time.

Read next: Is Microwave Popcorn A Health Food?

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Mandy Oaklander at mandy.oaklander@time.com