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The headline might have caught your attention for all the weird reasons, but there's even more that you should know about this superfood called cockroach milk. No matter how strange it sounds, the nutritional benefits of this superfood is true as per the study published in the EXCLI Journal.
According to the study, cockroach milk, from a specific type of cockroach, has all the nine types of essential amino acids. Consider the fact that many non-meat foods lack all these nine essential protein forms while cockroach milk has it all.
What Is Cockroach Milk And Why It Is Special?
Cockroach milk is a specific type of milk in a form of protein crystals which are produced from a cockroach species called Diploptera punctata, also known as Pacific beetle cockroach. Unlike other cockroaches which are known to produce eggs, D. punctata can give birth to live offspring (viviparous).
After the birth of the offspring, these Pacific beetle cockroaches, like other mammals, produce milk as a nutritional food for their babies. According to Barbara Stay, a zoologist at the University of Iowa, the liquid substance produced in the gut of such cockroaches have much higher constituents like proteins, fats and sugar along with all the essential amino acids compared to other mammalian milk. Also, the energy content in this milk is three times more than buffalo milk.
When these crystals are digested, they produce amino acids at a continuous rate. This results in the constant supply of vital nutrients needed for growth and development. That's why D. punctata's milk is regarded as a superfood.
Nutritional Value Of Cockroach Milk
Milk collected from the brood sac of D. punctata contains 45% protein, 25% carbohydrate, 55 amino acids and 16-22% lipid. Apart from that, it also contains oleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, glycerol, and essential vitamins and minerals.
How It Is Extracted?
The embryos of D.punctata develop from the fertilised eggs which are deposited in the brood sac of the cockroach. When the eggs develop into embryos, the brood sac slowly starts producing a liquid-like substance called ‘cockroach milk protein' as a nutritious food for their offspring. They start consuming milk from the sac which causes an excess of milk concentration in their stomach. Extra milk in the embryo's body thus, crystallises in their gut forming crystal-like liquid substance.
The process of milking starts by gently letting out the embryos from the brood sac of a pregnant cockroach. The midguts of embryos are then isolated by cutting the head and the abdomen end, allowing the crystals to pass-through it. The crystals are then collected and transferred to fresh sterile water as it is insoluble in it.
However, the idea of milking a large number of cockroaches is kind of impossible as it would take more than a thousand cockroaches to get 100 g of milk.
How Cockroach Milk Will Be Beneficial In The Near Future?
According to the study, the crystalline milk protein of cockroach could be the next generation's superfood and can be included as a nutritional human diet to enhance their quality of life. The milk is known to prevent the risk of certain diseases like cancer, diabetes and ischaemic heart disease. Also, it may be a good option for people who have lactose intolerance or milk allergies. However, the above-mentioned points require extensive study.
On the other hand, the downside of cockroach milk is that it is three times more in calories than cow's milk. Therefore, too much of this milk can cause obesity or weight issues. Pregnant women and children should avoid its consumption as there's no proof for its effectiveness in these cases.
Cockroach milk is not a commercially available drink though scientists have some evidence about its high nutritional profile. It may be that in the near future, it will be available to all, but it depends on the research in this area.