Okay, so have you heard about the recent trend about cockroach milk? (Yes, you can milk a cockroach!)
But… what exactly is it?
A 2016 study, published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography, analyzed the milk produced by the Pacific beetle cockroach or Diploptera punctata.
This species can be seen in parts of Hawaii, Asia, and Australia. Scientists from India examined the nutritional value of cockroach milk, wherein they found out that it is a highly nutritious substance, nearly three times richer in calories than buffalo milk, and almost four times the protein found in cow milk.
The Pacific beetle cockroach actually gives birth to live young, which makes them unique among cockroach species that typically lay eggs.
“Your ordinary garden-variety cockroach doesn’t do this,” said Stephen Tobe, a study co-author, and who is based at the University of Toronto.
So, how can we collect the cockroach milk?
This is not similar to milking a cow. Collecting the milk from this cockroach is a bit complicated because they do not excrete the milk.
The researchers had to carefully slice open the dead female cockroaches who were carrying the babies. After that, they extracted the tiny crystals from the midgut of the embryos – where the milk comes from.
“The crystals are like a complete food,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the researchers in the study. “They have proteins, fats, and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”
Banerjee also noted that the milk is definitely nutritious. It is made up of proteins, non-lactose sugars, and lipids, which are fats.
“It serves as a complete food for the embryos. The proteins are made up of all the 20 amino acids, while the lipids contain essential fats,” she said.
Unfortunately, you can’t get it… yet
Although the cockroach milk sounds
delicious promising, the milk crystals aren’t actually available for human consumption right now. The researchers also stated that they have no evidence to prove that the milk is safe for human consumption.
Okay, so, is cockroach milk the next superfood trend?
There is no scientific definition in the term “superfood.” It is actually a marketing term created by some companies so that you would think that their products aren’t just normal, but super.
Practically speaking, “superfoods” are foods that have high nutritional content and are very rich in compounds that are beneficial for prevention of disease or overall health. So, Banerjee said you could indeed call cockroach milk a “superfood.”
Some foods that are considered superfoods are salmon, broccoli, and blueberries. Still, there is no scientific evidence or general regulation for what may be considered as a superfood.
Experts suggest that it is still important to focus on the “super plate” rather than a “superfood.” That means that while it’s good to choose a food with high nutritional value, it’s still important to get a wide variety of minerals from different foods instead of from just one kind that can provide only particular nutrients.