Did you know that Cockroach milk is full of proteins, fats and sugar? the insect milk may someday be transformed into a food supplement worthy of human consumption, new research indicates.
The cockroach is one of the hardiest creatures on the planet; it can live for a month without food.
Scientists picked interest and went out to find out how this insect survives. “The interest here was, what is it really made of?” said Leonard Chavas, one of the scientists behind the research, published in July in the journal International Union of Crystallography.
Chavas and his colleagues examined the species, also known as Diploptera punctata, which is the only species of cockroach known to be viviparous — able to bring forth live babies that have developed within the mother’s body, instead of the mother laying eggs to develop outside her body.
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.
Crystal cockroach milk
Soon after the embryo ingests the liquid, protein crystals develop within its midgut. Chavas and his colleagues extracted one of these crystals to learn more about it and its potential nutrition. Following tests and even genome sequencing, they discovered it was a complete food.
“It is what one would need: protein, essential amino acids, lipids and sugars,” Chavas said, explaining that the energy content is so high that it helps infants within this unique species grow much bigger than cockroach babies of other species.
Though the crystal formation may seem surprising, other crystals, including insulin, take shape within the body for easier bodily storage — and it could have potential for human consumption, the research suggests.
So, how do you milk a cockroach?
The crystals are currently extracted from the midgut of cockroach embryos — perhaps not the most efficient way of feeding a growing world population.
Ultimately, however, Chavas and his team are hoping to reverse bioengineer cockroach milk, but first they need to understand the exact biological and chemical mechanisms underlying the process.
“For now, we are trying to understand how to control this phenomena in a much easier way, to bring it to mass production,” Chavas said.
Having lost a drinking game with his colleagues, Chavas tasted the cockroach milk once. “No particular taste,” he commented, though the idea of ice cream appeals to him. He imagines “a flavor with honey and crispy pieces.”
Laugh as you may, there is no irony lost on the fact that that this insect that can survive a nuclear disaster may someday provide the ultimate liquid superfood.
Read full story here: Drink up: Cockroach milk is the protein drink you didn’t know you’ve been missing