If someone told you that camel milk is better for your health than other types of milk, would you drink it?
Entrepreneurs like Desert Farms founder Walid Abdul-Wahab and King Bio founder Dr. Frank King are banking on the fact that you’ll give it a try. If they’re right, camel milk will be the next big superfood trend, right behind chia seeds and acai berries.
Abdul-Wahab talked to Munchies about his startup:
“I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where camel milk was ingrained in our culture. In the Middle East it’s used to honor your guests. Then I realized, by reading religious texts, that people felt that it could actually benefit the ill, people with diabetes, with autism. They didn’t mention these diseases by name, but they described their symptoms and all these prophets were recommending camels’ milk. I wanted to try to bring something positive from my home country to the US, when there’s often a barrier of communication between the two countries, and a lot of misconceptions about the Middle East. I also wanted to sell camel milk because of its health benefits—it’s been helping a lot of children with autism.
Though there’s not yet any scientific research to back it, Abdul-Wahab says he knows from experience that the anti-inflammatory properties of the milk help to improve brain function. “Anything you consume that’s anti-inflammatory reduces the amount of toxins in found in your gut, and reducing those toxins has a clear effect on the brain. It improves function,” says Abdul-Wahab.
Camels aren’t as common in the U.S. as cows, sheep, or goats, so it’s not surprising that an industry hasn’t yet developed around camel milk. Still, the influence of this alternative dairy product is growing worldwide. A commercial camel milk producer in Dubai called the Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products started exporting its Camelicious milk product to the United Kingdom in March 2014, after a successful trial run in January. According to USA Today, camel milk could sell at prices starting at $18 a pint in the U.S. if marketed correctly.
So what kind of scientifically-proven benefits does camel milk offer drinkers? Compared to cow milk, camel milk offers 10 times the amount of iron and 5 times the amount of vitamin C; additionally, it contains antibacterial and antiviral properties, according to Gulfnews.
What about the taste? It’s creamier and slightly sweeter than cow milk, and can be saltier, too. The milk that comes from different types of camels—Dromedary and Bactrian—varies in flavor and drinking quality (much like when milk comes from different breeds of dairy cows).
But what about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)?! The New England Journal of Medicine published a report on June 4 that establishes evidence for camel-to-human transmission of this potentially deadly virus. According to National Geographic, camel populations with no connection, in places as far-flung as Spain’s Canary Islands and various African nations, have tested positive for antibodies showing that they’ve successfully recovered from MERS, or another virus that’s virtually identical.
In Saudi Arabia, the country currently hit hardest by MERS, the Ministry of Health’s official word is that camel milk is safe to consume—as long as the milk is boiled (or pasteurized), and not consumed raw.
Dr. King’s take on camel milk’s health benefits is slightly more vague,
“Epigenetics suggest that we can actually change our genes by how we live. Right now in modern society, we are like polar bears released into a Death Valley environment. When people connect with nature, they feel better, and wild is better.”
Stores such as the Lassen’s Market chain in California currently sell Desert Farms camel’s milk. Since raw milk is legal in California, buyers there have a choice of raw or pasteurized. Abdul-Wahab says a deal is also in the works with California locations of Whole Foods.
[via USA Today]