Picture yourself downing a cup of cockroach milk. Gross right? Just thinking about it makes some people nauseated. With the growing demand for dairy-free diets, researchers are once again making headlines with their new discovery. Cockroach milk is the new superfood that everyone’s talking about. But cockroach milk is appealing to scientists and new evidence shows that it contains thrice as many calories as buffalo milk which, until now, was top of the list as the mammal that produces the most calorie-rich milk. This new health fad is being received with mixed reactions throughout the universe. Some consumers are entirely disgusted by the thought that these creepy insects could make their way to their dinner plates. If you don’t feel yuck yet, here are more facts that might interest you.
What is Cockroach Milk?
According to nutritionists, cockroach milk is a complete food, that is, it contains carbohydrates, fat and all the essential amino acids that you need to stay healthy.
Technically, roach milk is not actually ‘milk’. It’s a yellowish substance produced by the female Pacific beetle cockroaches to feed their offspring. The female Pacific beetle is a rare cockroach species that give birth to live babies and feeds them the ‘milk’. This substance forms tiny crystals in the guts of the young roaches after they digest it.
The nutrient-rich crystals contain all the essential amino acids and one report published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography concludes that it’s one of the most nutritious drinks on earth. But how do you milk roaches? This is the million-dollar question considering cockroaches don’t have nipples. Scientists say that to get the milk, you’ll have to open up the little insects’ guts. And to get 100 ml of the cockroach milk, you’ll have to harvest over 1,000 mother cockroaches.
Is it Safe for Humans?
There haven’t been human tests yet, and we can’t say for sure if the substance is a superfood or toxic to human health. A team of researchers concluded that as the protein-rich substance is digested, it slowly releases protein, making it crucial for survival. Add to this the fact that it’s a complete food and you have a superfood that could feed the future human population sustainably than cow’s milk. A major hurdle would be how to harvest huge amounts of cockroach milk to feed the vast population. But before we get too excited, science doesn’t have enough proof yet to support the viability of this so-called high-fat food source.
Seeing how serious the challenge of extracting cockroach milk for commercial purposes is, you could guess how costly it would be if this idea becomes a reality. However, researchers are suggesting that the most feasible approach would be via genetic engineering where genes from the cockroaches are put into yeast cultures to replicate the ‘milk’ at a commercial scale.
The craze about food products made from insects is not new. A Canadian grocery-store chain is selling protein powder made from crickets. Insects are said to provide healthy fats and more nutrition than what we get from animals. The company even sells a paleo-friendly protein bar whose main ingredient is cricket flour. A recent event that got the attention of consumers was a South African company selling ice cream made from bugs. The ice cream is made from ‘entomilk’, a milk alternative produced by insects. According to the company, educating consumers about the possibilities of healthy products is where all the science begins. For now, the company has three ice cream flavors – peanut butter, chocolate, and chai – and are soon thinking of venturing into yogurt and cheese.
Is Cockroach Milk Really a Superfood?
Although we might have to wait a couple of years before cockroach milk hits the market (assuming it will), one study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry pointed out that insects contain essential minerals and vitamins such as iron. The report goes on to say that iron solubility, a measure that shows how much of the mineral would be available to the human race, is higher for insects than it is for sirloin beef. In fact, the issue of eating insects is not new.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 2,000 species of insects make meals in different cultures worldwide. Before you go cockroach hunting, don’t expect to find the milk out of any roach in your home. The milk only comes from female Pacific beetle cockroaches. And for those interested in weight loss, this is not the magic superfood that you’re looking for. It packs close to 700 calories per one-ounce cup compared to Buffalo’s 235 calories for the same amount. So, can you handle eating cockroach milk?