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Camel's milk more nutritious than cow's

Camel's milk is more nutritious than cow's, but should not be drunk unpasteurised as it can carry bacterial infections.

Gulf News

Camel's milk is more nutritious than cow's, but should not be drunk unpasteurised as it can carry bacterial infections.

The animal is a vital part of Arabian culture and tradition and its milk is an important component of the diet in the UAE and other Arab countries.

A recent survey on health and lifestyle by experts at the UAE University said one in every six UAE nationals in urban areas regularly consumes camel's milk and this ratio goes up significantly in the Al Ain region and rural areas.

Dr Riaz Ahmed Minhas, a doctor at Emirates Clinic and Medical Centre in Al Ain, yesterday said unpasteurised camel's milk can cause brucellosis.

"Camel's milk need not be boiled as much as that of cow's or goat's. Strong in flavour, it must be drunk slowly to allow the stomach to digest it."

The milk is lower in fat and lactose and higher in potassium, iron and Vitamin C. Clinical analysis of camel's milk has shown it to be 40 per cent lower in cholesterol than cow's milk.

It also has a low sugar and a high mineral content, with sodium, magnesium and possibly iodine – if it was present in the camel's diet – as well as a high protein content.

"Camel milk is good for humans provided care is taken," said Dr Minhas, adding his clinic intermittently receives patients from rural areas with brucellosis.

Brucellosis bacteria is transmitted to humans through unpasteurised dairy products. Direct contact with infected animals and environmental contamination through animal secretions and infected tissue can also cause brucellosis.

Dr Minhas said the infection causes high fever and patients need immediate medical attention. It can affect the liver, kidneys and brain if medical help is delayed.

The infection can prove fatal for the elderly. "Proper awareness among people dealing with camels and other livestock can save many lives. UAE authorities are very active in providing veterinary support to farmers," he said.

Experts said camel milk is very important for survival in arid countries. Somalia is believed to be home to 30 per cent of the world's population of camels, mostly one-humped, and they are mainly farmed for milk.

In the UAE, Al Ain has emerged as the leading agricultural centre. It is also believed to have the largest number of camels in the UAE.

The one-humped camel was domesticated about 3000 BC in southern Arabia mainly for its meat and milk.