Camel’s milk is consumed in parts of the world where camels are native to those countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and India.
Recently we have seen increasing popularity of milk alternatives-almond, coconut, hemp, rice, etc. This billion-dollar market has given camel milk the opportunity to surface as another alternative. But does it provide special health benefits in comparison to cow’s milk or the other alternatives?
The table below shows the difference between 1-cup of raw camel’s milk and 1% low-fat cow’s milk:
|Cow’s Milk||Camel’s Milk|
|Fat||2.5 grams||4.5 grams|
|Potassium||400 mg.||390 mg.|
|Protein||8 grams||5 grams|
|Calcium||300 mg.||300 mg.|
|Carbohydrate||13 grams||11 grams|
|Vitamin D||127 IU||36 IU|
|Shell life (unpasteurized)||7 days||2 days|
|Shell life (pasteurized)||2 weeks||5 days|
|Cost||1 gallon = $4.87||1 gallon = $144|
Nutritionally they are similar in terms of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat). However, camel’s milk has a shorter shelf life and is beyond expensive compared to cow’s milk or other types of milk.
What is the research saying regarding camel’s milk?
- Camel’s contains higher levels of insulin and an insulin like protein compared to cow’s milk. In a clinical research study with 24 children with type I diabetes less insulin was required when ingesting camel?s milk.
- Two small studies showed improvement in autistic children’s behavior when ingesting camel?s milk.
- Antibodies to MERS- CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) were found in camel’s milk in 2012 which could be fatal in humans who consume the milk or come in contact with infected camels.
- In 2012, the FDA legalized the sale of camel’s milk in the United States. There are approximately seven camel milk dairies across the US and although pasteurization would limit foodborne illness, it would decrease the nutritional benefit since it is traditionally consumed fresh.
- Since camel’s milk contains more insulin and an insulin like protein, it could potentially cause weight gain in those drinking it.
So what?s the verdict?
Since the research is limited with small number of participants, the high cost of camel’s milk, and the possibility of food-borne illness and weight gain, it is difficult to justify recommending camel’s milk.
So if you are a Bedouin herder or own camel farms enjoy the milk, but for the rest of you we suggest you hold your camels.
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Farah Alrajaan