Humans love their milk and it’s not always the standard cow milk they prefer consuming. As more reports come out showing the downside of cow milk, people are slowly migrating to other sources to get their vitamin D. Some are a tad creepy (like cockroach milk or human breast milk) while others are sourced from things that don’t even have utters (think almonds or coconuts).
But the newest milk craze comes from across seas to continents where the land layout is dry and temperamental and probably the last place you would normally look for milk.
For centuries, camel milk has been an important source of nutrition for nomadic cultures in harsh environments like deserts.
In recent years, it has become more commercially available and is growing rapidly popular.
But why you might ask yourself? What does camel milk have (or don’t have) that makes it more coveted than standard cow milk?
Here are 5 benefits you can reap from switching over to camel milk — and a few reasons why you may not want to.
1. It’s rich in nutrients
When it comes to calorie, protein, and carb intake, camel milk is comparable to whole cow’s milk. It offers more vitamin C, B, iron, potassium and calcium than its counterpart. It’s lower in saturated fats and contains a good source of healthy fats, such as long-chain fatty acids, linoleic acid, and unsaturated fatty acids, which may support brain and heart functioning.
One-half cup (120 ml) of camel milk contains:
- Calories: 50
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Thiamine: 29% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 8% of the DV
- Calcium: 16% of the DV
- Potassium: 6% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 5% of the DV
2. It may be a better option for people with lactose intolerance
Milk allergies are a common condition caused by a deficiency of lactase - the enzyme needed to digest the sugar in dairy known as lactose. Lactose intolerance can cause bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Camel milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk, making it more tolerable for many people with lactose intolerance. Camel milk also has a different protein profile than cow’s milk and appears to be better tolerated by those with an allergy to cow’s milk.
What’s more, camel milk has been used to treat diarrhea caused by rotavirus for hundreds of years. Research suggests that the milk contains antibodies that help treat this disease, which is particularly common in children.
3. It may lower blood sugar and insulin
Camel milk has been shown to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Camel milk contains insulin-like proteins, which may be responsible for its antidiabetic activity.
Some studies show that camel milk provides the equivalent of 52 units of insulin per about 4 cups. It’s also high in zinc, which may diminish insulin sensitivity.
One study found that adults with type 1 diabetes who drank 2 cups of camel milk a day (in addition to diet, exercise, and insulin treatment) saw lower blood sugar and insulin levels than those not given camel milk.
4. It can fight disease-causing organisms and boost immunity
Camel milk contains compounds that appear to fight various disease-causing organisms. The two main active components in camel milk are lactoferrin and immunoglobulins.
Lactoferrin has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It inhibits the growth of E. coli, K. pneumoniae,
Clostridium, H.pylori, S. aureus, and C. albicans - all organisms that can cause severe infections.
Even more interesting, one study on rats found that camel milk protected against leukopenia (low white blood cell count) and other side effects of cyclophosphamide - a toxic anticancer drug.
5. May aid brain conditions and autism spectrum disorder
Camel milk has been studied for its effects on behavioral conditions in children. These studies suggest that the powerful milk may aid those with autism. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, though a few small studies indicate potential benefits for improving autistic behaviors. Benefits looked especially promising with children on the spectrum, though more studies need to be conducted for any conclusive evidence.
With all of these health benefits, you may be wondering why more people don’t consume camel milk. Other than it not being widely available in the mainstream, camel milk has a few downsides.
For one, it’s not pasteurized and consuming raw camel milk increases the risk of food poisoning. It’s also much more expensive than other milk on the market.
There is also the issue of cruelty. Camels are not indigenous to the United States which means many camels are transported across seas for milk production purposes. Many animal activities believe this to be inhuman and cruel.
Bottom line: camel milk has many promising attributes but (as with anything else), one must weigh the pros with the cons.