Could camel's milk be the health drink of the future? Dr. Frank King hopes so. He currently has 23 camels on his farm near Asheville, NC, a mix of humped dromedaries and double-humped Bactrians that are milked by hand—no crouching or seat needed. The creatures' milk has less cholesterol than cow's milk, and it's got more protein, vitamin C, and iron, per scientific studies, the Citizen-Times reports. And "the milk is tasty," says King, who describes the dromedaries' milk as the saltier and creamier of the two. What's more, the milk is also expensive, potentially at least $18 a pint. It's often raw as well; King says he's still testing pasteurization methods.
King's camels are just a handful of the estimated 5,000 now in the US, with camel-milking outfits established in seven states (including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio) and on deck in seven more. Last month Vice spoke with the owner of California-based Desert Farms, which relies on Amish farmers to supply its milk. Walid Abdul-Wahab extols the drink's health benefits, too, which are said to include an unproven one: that it helps kids with autism. "There is no scientific research behind this yet so we don't make any of those kinds of claims. But I can tell you what I've heard from people who have tried it": that its anti-inflammatory properties have beneficial effects on the brain. As far as camel-milk studies go, one expert last month argued there aren't enough. By his count, only about 10 of the 10,000 milk-related studies published annually focus on camel milk, reports allAfrica. (As far as healthy eats go, watercress has been named the No. 1 "powerhouse" vegetable.)