Camel milk

The Hindu - - HEALTH - :: Sweta Akundi

The easy reign that cow and buf­falo milk hold over the dairy in­dus­try world­wide is far from over. But as the pre­vi­ous years have shown us, there is a slow but sure rise in the trust we place in lo­cal tra­di­tions. And so it is that camel milk is en­ter­ing the dairy mar­ket stronger than ever be­fore, with ma­jor brands such as Amul, now sell­ing pack­aged camel milk in se­lect Gu­jarat mar­kets.

In In­dia, other than tribes in the Kutch re­gion, where it is tra­di­tion­ally had, not many drink or have even heard of camel milk. “I know that there are cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties in Ra­jasthan and Gu­jarat that drink camel milk, but so far, no ma­jor re­search in In­dia has been done on its ben­e­fi­cial properties,” says Sheela Kr­ish­naswamy, for­mer pres­i­dent of the In­dian Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion.

But that’s be­cause re­search typ­i­cally stems from the West, be­lieves nu­tri­tion­ist Man­jari Chan­dra. “We have only re­cently started re­search­ing our own spices,” she says. “Camel milk, so far, has not been a point of dis­cus­sion in the con­fer­ences I’ve been to.”

What re­search does ex­ist, how­ever, points to the eas­ier di­ges­tive properties of camel milk.

Much of the re­search comes from West

Asian coun­tries, where camel milk has been a part of the tra­di­tional diet.

A study done by re­searchers at Mash­had Univer­sity of Med­i­cal Sciences, Iran, pub­lished in the jour­nal Elec­tronic Physi­cian, claims camel milk has low sugar and choles­terol, and is high in polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, and min­er­als (sodium, potas­sium, iron, cop­per, zinc and mag­ne­sium) and vi­ta­min C. Lower sugar lev­els as­so­ci­ated with camel milk, are also at­trib­uted as be­ing use­ful for peo­ple liv­ing with di­a­betes. It also says camel milk is clos­est to hu­man mother’s milk.

“Like yak milk in Ti­bet, camel milk also has a saltier pro­file, as com­pared to the bland sweet­ness of cow’s milk,” says Man­jari. While camel milk has been used in sweets for some time now, its abil­ity to re­place cow’s milk is slowly be­ing con­sid­ered. Aus­tralia, for in­stance, is now look­ing to cash in on its feral camel pop­u­la­tion to meet de­mands in the US and Asia.

If you drink cow’s milk, there may be no rea­son to go out of your way to re­place it. How­ever, if you are lac­tose in­tol­er­ant or are liv­ing with di­a­betes, check with your doc if you can try camel’s milk.

In this col­umn, we de­code health trends and de­cide if it’s all just ‘hype’ or ac­tu­ally ‘hap­pen­ing’

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