COCKROACH MILK: THE NEXT SUPERFOOD?
Cockroaches are universally hated around the world. Some of us are scared of them. Some of us find them disgusting. Some of us think that they’re pests that don’t deserve to survive. But in reality, cockroaches have some very cool attributes, and in a latest find, their milk was found to be extremely nutritious. Read the article to find out more.
Do you think cockroaches are cute? Didn’t think so.
What’s to like about them, you ask. They’re creepy, crawly insects with swirling antennae and a remarkable ability to survive blows from a folded newspaper or an inverted slipper. It has even been said that cockroaches are among the most successful species on Earth, because they’ve been around for more than 360 million years.
Humans have always regarded roaches to be pests, but a recent study has suggested that these little fellows may make an important dietary contribution to human foods in the near future.
What’s the secret?
It turns out that cockroach milk contains protein crystals that can serve as fantastic protein supplements for human diet, especially vegetarians. A team of scientists, some of whom work out of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (RM) in Bengaluru, India, has recently uncovered the structure of milk protein crystals in the roach species called Diploptera Punctata. They found that a single crystal of cockroach milk is estimated to contain three times the energy of an equivalent mass of buffalo milk.
The crystals are not just high in energy, but also scores high on balance. It has protein, fat and sugars, with all the essential amino acids present. In addition to this, the milk crystals are known to be stable, so they can be cultivated en masse in a yeast system. So if you were imagining massive farms where cockroaches will be milked, then you will be disappointed. Scientists are going to create these milk proteins using gene cultures instead of extracting them from roaches themselves.
A time-release food
The milk crystals also offer a unique advantage: as the protein in a given solution is used up by digestion or absorption, the crystals release protein to replenish the exhausted reserves. These types of foods are called time-release foods because they offer nutrition over a period of time, where fewer nutrients go to waste due to indigestion. So if you’re looking for a high-energy food that is also a protein-rich source that is also time-release, then this is a perfect choice.
In addition to being used as a potential superfood, these milk crystals also exhibit structures that open up possibilities in their use as nanoparticles that will assist in drug delivery in the not too distant future.
In this way, perhaps the most hated and the oldest of insects that give us nightmares in the household by appearing in pipes and storage closets have just proven to us that they’re cool in their own way – provided, of course, we humans are smart enough to realise it and reap the benefits.