Zebu cattle are not animals I’ve thought much about, ever. But I came across an interesting article about them recently. I learned that zebu are small relatives of oxen, native to Southwest Asia. They’ve been raised for meat and milk for thousands of years. The hardy animals tolerate heat and resist disease and parasites. I also learned that they are a good source of A2 milk.
Perhaps you’ve seen A2 milk at your local grocery store. You can’t miss the big labels. What does “A2” mean? Is it healthier?
It’s all about casein
A2 refers to a type of casein protein in milk. Casein makes up about 80% of total milk protein, and casein comes in different forms. Most milk has both A1 and A2 casein. Milk labeled A2 is different; it does not have A1 casein. It comes from specific breeds of cows, and from zebus (although it’s unlikely that any zebu A2 milk is available on grocery store shelves).
The argument for A2 milk is that some people can’t properly digest A1 casein, which could lead to digestive upset. You might not tolerate milk well, and think you have lactose intolerance. But lactose-free milk doesn’t help. Perhaps the problem is digestion of A1 casein. In that case, A2 milk could solve your problem.
Is A2 for you?
Unfortunately, there is very little good research evidence for this. There’s also no handy test to see whether or not you are digesting casein. If you’re curious, you could do your own research and try A2 milk. NOTE: inability to digest casein is not the same as a food allergy. If you are allergic to milk, you will be allergic to A2 milk as well.
A2 milk tastes like regular milk. The nutrient profile is the same as other milk. You can drink it, put it on cereal or in coffee, and cook with it. The main catch for some people might be cost.
Meanwhile zebu are being raised in more countries around the world, including Australia and Latin America. The animals’ hardiness makes them an ideal choice for harsher climates, where reliable sources of meat and milk are critically important. Perhaps someday you’ll see “A2 Zebu” milk* for sale at the local grocery store. Kind of has a ring to it.
*The milk is reportedly 6% butterfat, almost twice the fat content of whole milk.