Cockroach milk may be the most nutritious milk yet discovered, but can you milk a cockroach? Well, some say yes. And while the thought of this may seem far fetched, apparently there are nutrient-rich crystals that lie within the belly of the insects.
Barbara Stay, a professor at the University of Iowa and the first to do such a study on cockroach milk, spoke with NPR Radio to explain just how this works. According to Stay, she learned that the embryos of the Pacific beetle cockroach consumed a liquid from the mother during development. This liquid later became tiny crystals inside the intestines. Stay continued her research, later creating a milking process using a filter paper in the brood sac for the embryos.
If you think this sounds like a lot of trouble on top of the fact that roaches are not all that appealing to the tummy, you may be right, but some think the nutrients are worth all that milking trouble. According to NPR, biochemist Subramanian Ramaswamy at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India, led a team of researchers in taking a closer look at the crystals and their nutritional value. What they found was that cockroach milk may be one of the most nutritious substances on the planet. (1)
CNN shares even more, including a cockroach farm. China is taking advantage of this super-nutrient, which is being ordered by pharmaceutical companies. Roach nutrients may help stomach, liver and heart disease, according to reports, and while it’s not quite catching on at your local market, it is being researched. (2)
Let’s dig into this a bit further. Most cockroaches lay eggs, but the Pacific beetle cockroach goes at development a bit differently. The Pacific beetle cockroach actually gives birth to a few, maybe a dozen, in brood sacs. And not unlike the human, the mother Pacific beetle produces some pretty spectacular food for its babies. That is where the cockroach milk comes into play. (3)
Benefits of Cockroach Milk
1. Provides Energy
If energy is something you’re after, you may find it, and then some, in cockroach milk. According to a study, cockroach milk contains four times the energy than cow’s milk and three times that of buffalo milk.
A group of scientists revealed that milk protein crystals within the cockroach are actually loaded with nutritious benefits, noting them as a “complete food” given their amino acid profile. This gives way to revitalizing the cellular structure within the body. (4)
2. Protein Powerhouse
Do you recall the article about cricket flour? Well, to recap, cricket flour contains a lot of protein — three times that of a steak. It even tastes good. So what does that have to do with cockroaches? Apparently the amount of protein in cockroach milk adds to its list of nutritional benefits.
Previously, I noted that crystals are formed in the body of the mother cockroach. Not long after the cockroach embryo consumes the liquid, those crystals are formed and are jam-packed with protein. Upon scientific research, these crystals are actually made up of a complete food due to the protein, essential amino acids, lipids and sugars they contain. Due to this amazing nutrition, the babies of the Pacific beetle cockroach grow way bigger than other cockroach species. (5, 6)
3. Nutrition When You Need It
There’s a good bit of talk about cockroach milk supplements, partially because cockroach milk offers lots of nutrition that’s time-released so the body uses it when it needs it. This may be more successful and ultimately easier to stomach than the milk itself given the mental disgust that’s often associated with cockroaches. (7, 8)
4. May Help with Greenhouse Gases
It seems that another benefit could be lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The dairy industry is getting a bad rap, not only with the discussions about milk being difficult to digest for humans, but with each burp of a cow, the environment gets hits with greenhouse emissions.
Since cockroaches don’t burp, it could minimize some environmental concerns. Even the ever so popular almond milk causes some tough environmental concerns since it requires tons of water to produce almonds.
According the the World Wildlife Fund, dairy cows produce greenhouse gas emissions through manure as well, which contributes to climate change. If the manure and any fertilizers used are not handled properly, they end up in our water supply. Additionally, it can cause prairies, wetlands and forests to undergo problems, leading to loss of these important areas of land. (9, 10, 11)
Where to Find Cockroach Milk
If you live in China, your chances of finding cockroach milk are way better since it’s becoming a booming business there. While it may sound like a bad scary film, CBS News reports that cockroach farms contains tens of millions of cockroaches and are quite the thing. (12)
Wang Fuming, an entomologist and farmer, told CBS that he has been intrigued with bugs since he was a child and started farming them later as an adult. So who is buying it? Pharmaceutical companies recognize the vast amount of nutrition available so, of course, putting it into capsule form is a natural, moneymaking next step. Fuming says that it’s very popular in traditional Chinese medicine, healing pretty much anything from disease to treating wounds and even as an ingredient in toothpaste. Regardless, finding it on shelves at your local health food market may take awhile.
Final Thoughts on Cockroach Milk
While it may sound disgusting, it does appear there are real benefits to cockroach milk. However, further research is needed, and of course you don’t want to just go round up some roaches for their milk. Many insects can carry disease, and as with any food, allergies are a possibility. Still, it appears this unlikely food source may have its benefits.
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