Got milk? How about cockroach milk?
Yeah. You read that correctly.
Cockroach milk is apparently a thing now, and regardless of how vile it may seem, it turns out the insect milk packs a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. That’s according to a new report from researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India. The scientists found that cockroach milk is a protein powerhouse and has the potential to become the next superfood.
You probably don’t associate cockroaches with producing milk — and in fact, most don’t. The Pacific Beetle Cockroach (Diploptera punctate) is the only known cockroach that not only gives birth to live infant bugs, but also produces a “milk” containing protein crystals to feed its young.
“The crystals are like a complete food — they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main researchers, said in an interview with The Times of India.
The report was recently published in the journal of the International Union of Crystallography.
“The fact that an insect produces milk is pretty fascinating — but what fascinated researchers is the fact that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories than dairy milk),” says Science Alert.
The next superfood?
Cockroach milk has another big advantage. As the protein is used up and digested, the crystal continues to release protein at a similar rate.
“It’s time-released food,” explained Subramanian Ramaswamy, a biochemist at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India, adding “if you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released and food that is complete. This is it.”
So how do you get the milk from the cockroach mothers? You don’t milk a cockroach, if that’s what you’re thinking.
“The crystals are currently extracted from the midgut of cockroach embryos — perhaps not the most efficient way of feeding a growing world population,” says CNN.
The researchers are hoping to find a way to reverse bioengineer the cockroach milk so it can potentially be consumed as a protein supplement.
If you think cockroach milk sounds disgusting, what about crickets? Bugs are increasingly looked at as a way to address growing global food demands. Read more about eating crickets here.
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