This summer while I was strolling the streets of Emirates I made a pit stop for a quick coffee fix, the word, ”Camel-ccino“ on the menu caught my eye and I decided to give it a shot.
It was rich, creamy, it had a sweet and sharp taste but sometimes felt little salty too. It intrigued me and I decided to find out more about Camel milk. And more to the point, camel milk benefits.
The Camel we are discussing is called Dromedary or the one-hump camel. This type of camel is common to Africa and the Middle East. It has been the mainstay of pastoral societies due to its drought tolerance, reliable milk and meat supply and its ability to feed on wide range of plants. Herders sometimes survive solely on the milk when taking the camels on long distances to graze in desert and arid environments.
Previously in one of my articles we have discussed how Cow Milk differs from Almond Milk. Camel milk is vastly different from cow’s milk too. The taste generally depends on the type of fodder and the availability of fodder. Compared to cow milk, camel milk sours slowly as it does not coagulate easily and that’s why it can be kept longer without refrigeration.
The pH of Camel’s milk ranges from 6.2 to 6.5, lower than that of cow milk. The Niacin and Vitamin C content is substantially higher than cow milk. In particular vitamin C content, an average three times higher than that of cow milk. ¹ This is of significant relevance from the nutritional standpoint in the arid areas where fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C are scarce.
Camel milk has more fat and contains fewer short-chained fatty acids, but similar long-chained fatty acids as in cow’s. Researchers have claimed that the value of camel milk is to be found in the high concentrations of linoleic acid among other polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for human nutrition.² Surprisingly, it’s is lower in cholesterol too.
Here’s the nutritional value of one cup of our camel milk:
Calories: 107 calories
Protein: 5.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 11 grams
Total sugars: 8 grams
Fat: 4.6 grams
Saturated fat: 3 grams
Mono fat: 1.5 grams
Poly fat: 1 gram
Trans fatty acid: .140 gram
Cholesterol: 17 grams
Vitamin A-IU (IU): 224.5
Calcium: 293 milligrams
Iron: .4 milligram
Sodium: 150 milligrams
There are many folklore stories narrated by camel herders describing the use of camel milk for medicinal purposes. One such is that camel milk can help control diabetes by improving glucose tolerance. And today there is enough anecdotal research supporting the claim.
So here’s some camel milk benefits:
Helps manage Diabetes
Camel milk has relatively large concentrations of insulin. While some insulin is also found in the milk of other animals, including cows. Insulin is a protein that is normally destroyed by stomach acid, especially as milk forms a coagulum in stomach allowing acid and pepsin to break proteins over a period of time.
However, in the case of camel milk, it does not form a coagulum with acid. This lack of coagulum formation allows the milk to pass rapidly through the stomach along with the insulin. Also, the fact that camel insulin is encapsulated in nano lipid (i.e., fat) vesicles, which makes their journey through the stomach into circulation easier. ³
Supports Immunity and may Relieve Autism symptoms
Like breast milk, camel milk contains high level of infection fighting enzymes, as well as immune stimulating immunoglobulin A. These factors complemented by several other antibacterial and antiviral properties found in the milk help boost immunity. It significantly enhances the level of an antioxidant called Glutathione, as well as provide high levels of magnesium and zinc.
This combination is known to fight oxidative stress. Also, Glutathione is found to be inhibited in autism patients, that sets the stage for behavioral aberrations. Camel milk was found to significantly enhance these antioxidant and mineral levels. 4
Most important difference between cow and camel milk is that camel milk lacks A1 casein and lactoglobulin proteins, mainly responsible for most food allergies in humans. Due to this immune boosting effect it is thought to ameliorate allergic reactions from food allergies.
A study observed children with severe allergies, who didn’t respond to other treatments. It listed astounding results: All of the children in the study recovered from their allergies after drinking camel milk. In fact, the researchers claimed it was more effective than medical treatments. 5
Also, cow’s milk has been known to aggravate autoimmune disorders, whereas camel milk has been reported to improve autoimmune conditions.
Healthy liver and promotes good cholesterol
Camel milk has also been found to prevent fatty liver disease and raise HDL-cholesterol levels. In a study one of the four diabetic groups were used as a Diabetic Control Group (DCG), whereas, three diabetic groups were fed on diets containing cow (COM), buffalo (BFG) or camel milks (CMG) for six weeks.
Feeding diabetic rats on camel milk was showing a higher hypoglycemic effect than that of either COM or BFG compared to the DCG group. It confirmed the hypoglycemic effect of camel milk as well as marked improvements in liver and kidneys function, which was greater than those of COG and BFG groups. 6
Good source of Calcium and Thiamine
Like other B vitamins, vitamin B1 (thiamine) plays an important role in energy production from carbohydrates, and camel milk is a great source of it. It has also been shown to maintain the structural integrity of brain cells and prevent nerve damage.
Camel milk also contains a higher concentration of calcium than cow milk, so it’s an excellent source of this bone-strengthening, nerve-supporting mineral.
For all the goodness that Camel milk has to offer this Bedouin saying may prove true, “Water is the soul, milk is the life”.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Harmeet K Sehgal
Laboratory of Dairy Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH-Zentru, Zürich.
Gast et al., (1969)
Malik, A., Al-Senaidy, A., Skrzypczak-Jankun, E., & Jankun, J. (2012). A study of the anti-diabetic agents of camel milk. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 30, 585-592.
Laila Y. AL-Ayadhi and Nadra Elyass Elamin, “Camel Milk as a Potential Therapy as an Antioxidant in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 602834, 8 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/602834
Camel Milk for Food Allergies in Children Y. Shabo, R. Barzel, M. Margoulis, R. Yagil.
International Journal of Dairy Science 6(3):190-197 · June 2011
Milk and Meat from the Camel: Handbook on Products and Processing By Omar Abdulkadir Sh. Abdurahman
Dromadaires et chameaux, animaux laitiers: actes du colloque By Pascal Bonnet