‘Superfood’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot when describing certain produce that is chock-full of nutritional value. Foods like kale and avocado often get thrown in this category, but one thing that you’ve probably never heard of (in regards to being a superfood) is cockroach milk.
Yes, cockroach milk. I bet you didn’t even know that cockroaches produced milk! That’s okay, neither did I. But as it turns out, an international team of scientists discovered a unique protein crystal in the mid-gut of a certain species of cockroach.
Diploptera punctate, which is one of the only species of cockroach to live-birth their young, was found to produce a milk-like substance for their babies that is full of these energy packed protein crystals.
After analyzing the crystal, they found that it’s about four times more nutritious than regular cow’s milk and contains about three times more energy than highly calorific buffalo milk.
Because collecting milk from these cockroaches wouldn’t exactly be the easiest thing to do, the team of scientists studying these bugs (who hail from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India) were wondering if they could isolate the genes responsible for producing the protein crystals, and then try to reproduce them in a lab setting.
“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said team member Sanchari Banerjee, in an interview with the Times of India.
While this sort of development will likely not benefit many modern cultures around the world (because most people already consume too many calories each day as it is), it has endless potential to help those who struggle to find enough food on a regular basis. And food shortages are very real possibility that the current generation will likely have to deal with at some point in the near future.