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Milking the ship of the desert for 'white gold'

An Israeli scientist wants to turn camel milk, a healthier option than cow's milk, into the 'white gold' of the desert. The practised method of milking normally yields// some 1.5 litres of milk per camel a day - much less than the yield of 20 litres produced by cows. Yagil, however, says he has developed a method that yields at least 15 litres per camel a day.

Traditionally seen as riding and pack animals, camels are hugely underestimated and under-exploited for their milk, even though camel milk is the most suitable for human consumption after mother's milk, Reuven Yagil points out.

Cow's milk, although the most commonly consumed, actually ranks lowest after sheep, goat, horse, camel and human milk respectively, says the physiology professor, who has studied the nutritional and medical benefits of camel milk along with other scientists at Ben-Gurion University in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

Camel milk, which has a subtle difference in taste and is somewhat thinner in texture than cow's milk, is easily digested by people who suffer from 'lactose intolerance' and lack the enzyme necessary to break down the sugar in cow's milk.

It is non-allergenic because it lacks the two types of protein responsible for allergies brought on by cow's milk. It also has a low fat content of about two percent and of a type that is mostly poly-unsaturated, while cow's milk is rich in saturated fat - the kind that contributes to the clogging of the arteries.

Camel milk also contains three times more vitamin C than cow's milk, and is rich in calcium and iron. But perhaps most importantly, camel milk contains antibodies that strengthen the immune system.

In other types of milk, antibodies are only present in colostrum - the thick fluid produced in the first few days after birth - but in camel milk they are present throughout.

In conventional medicine, people with allergies are given drugs that s
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