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’