Many people do not consider their breakfast complete without a glass of milk. Right now, cows, goats, and sheep provide most of the world’s milk. But soon, people could be drinking roach milk. At least, that’s what an international group of scientists proposes.

New research shows that this “milk” is super nutritious. Also, some scientists are already beginning to refer to many insects as mini-livestock.

In 2004, Subramanian Ramaswamy began studying the crystals found within the guts of cockroach embryos. At the time, he was teaching biochemistry at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Ramaswamy is now studying a number of topics, including infectious diseases, at the Institute of Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India.

His studies over the years focused on the Pacific cockroach beetle. (Diploptera punctate).

This is the only roach species that is viviparous (Vy-VIP-er-us). That is to say, the embryo develops, after fertilization, in a specialized structure within the female’s womb.

Roach mothers feed babies growing inside them with a liquid similar to milk. That milk contains the crystals, which are made of protein.

Diploptera punctata.

To learn more about these milk crystals, scientists needed to study them closely.

Thanks to the help and application of X-rays they were able to see atoms in the milk crystals, equal to protein.

The atoms in the crystal caused the emitted X-rays to scatter slightly. That’s why this scanning technique is known as X-ray diffraction. And the scatter pattern that emerges helped scientists map the location of the atoms that make up the crystal’s structure.

Clearly, milking a cockroach is not the most feasible option, so an international team of scientists led by researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India decided to sequence the genes responsible for producing the milk protein crystals to see if they could somehow replicate them in the lab.

«Crystals are like a complete food: they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look at the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids, ” Sanchari Banerjee, who was part of the team told the Times of India magazine in 2018.

Does this milk have any benefits?

In fact, the team published an article in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography in 2016 concluding that Pacific beetle roach milk is a very nutritious food you can drink.

For example, it has three times more calories than buffalo milk, which contains 236 calories and 9.2 grams of protein per cup.

However, cockroach milk is not yet available, which means you will have to look for your protein elsewhere.

cockroach milkImage: Unsplash

Are insects a food future?

According to the United Nations Organization for Feeding and Agriculture, the insects are the food of the futureBecause they have great nutritional value and help preserve the environment.

To cite one example, South African company Gourmet Grubb, established in 2017, sells ice cream made from insect milk or entomilk, but it’s unclear whether the milk comes from roaches, specifically.

The Gourmet Grubb website simply states that its milk is “made from sustainably grown insects.” In addition, they express the following:

“We believe that insects are the future of superfoods. They are packed with ingredients and have the added benefit of being eco-friendly and sustainable. Plus, they’re a fantastic source of protein. ”

Is cockroach milk really the next great superfood?

Probably not. As The Independent reports, it takes many roaches to produce large amounts of milk for human consumption.

Also, there is not enough research to make this nauseating food attractive.

“On the one hand, insect farms can easily be greener and more sustainable than cattle breeding”Nutritionist Martina Della Vedova told The Independent.

He added: “But, on the other hand, we don’t know what the effect of this food is on us in the long term and if there is a maximum daily amount that we must consider. More studies and research should be done ».

Not to mention, there are many other nutritious foods that are more appetizing.

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