Study finds cockroach milk a nutritious superfood

By |  September 23, 2016

A group of stem cell biologists and chemists set out to study the nutritional concentration of cockroach milk.

Milk from the Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata) is remarkably nutritious, according to a research paper recently published in IUCrJ, the journal of the International Union of Crystallography. In fact, the scientists found that the milk exceeded the food value of buffalo milk by three times.

“The crystals are like a complete food — they have proteins, fats and sugars.” Sanchari Banerjee, one of the authors of the paper, told the Times of India. “If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”

The Pacific beetle cockroach is the only cockroach that produces milk, according to the paper. They are viviparous because they birth their young; they don’t lay eggs like other cockroach species.

“Like other viviparous creatures, this species of roach nourishes its growing embryos with a protein-rich liquid secreted by its brood sac — the roach version of a uterus,” CNN reports. “Soon after the embryo ingests the liquid, protein crystals develop within its midgut.”

Those protein crystals are unique. Not only does the milk contain a high amount of nutrients, it’s also time released, according to ScienceAlert.com. The protein crystal releases more protein at an equivalent rate while the protein in the milk is digested.

The finding doesn’t mean cockroach milk will line the shelves of Whole Foods, but it does open up possibilities for those who don’t get the amount of calories required per day.

“They’re very stable. They can be a fantastic protein supplement,” Subramanian Ramaswamy, one of the authors of the paper, told ScienceAlert.com.

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