If you have a fear of creepy crawlies and cockroaches, in particular, be warned because this article is all about the benefits of cockroach milk.
Yes, you read that right. Cockroach milk.
We all know the benefits of milk; it’s nutrient-rich (protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and potassium), is ideal for building stronger bones and is Santa’s fave drink. While we’re generally more used to cow, goat and sometimes even sheep milk, in recent years, we’ve seen a rise in milk alternatives – made from soy, almond, cashew, rice, coconut, hemp and the like. The argument for why these alternatives are better ranges from the fact that milk substitutes are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol-free (in comparison to cows milk), has a longer shelf life and obviously, is safer for those who are lactose-intolerant. And it seems, that in the process of looking for milk alternatives, scientists have found that cockroach milk may just be the next superfood (foods that have a very high nutritional density with very few calories). Now you may have a few questions about cockroach milk – and we’re here to answer them.
Do cockroaches produce milk???
Most cockroaches don’t produce milk; the ones you find in your cupboards definitely don’t. The only known cockroach to give birth to live young, the Diploptera punctate (aka the Pacific beetle cockroach), however, has been proven to produce a type of ‘milk’ in the form of protein crystals for its young. Since as far back as 2016, researchers have found that this milk-like crystalline substance is actually what is considered a “complete food” because it contains large amounts of vital constituents such as fats, sugar and proteins, and are particularly rich in essential amino acids.
Why is cockroach milk beneficial?
Here’s the thing, it’s hard to imagine consuming milk that is produced by something that we consider pests. However, if you can get over the fact, scientific evidence has shown that the composition of cockroach milk makes it more than three times as nutritious as cow’s milk, buffalo milk, and even human breast milk. Its high protein content helps with muscle repair, but, even more impressive, is the fact that it also has all 9 of the essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine). To top it off, the protein in the milk has a slow absorption rate, making it a ‘time release’ protein. This means at, as the protein in the milk is directed, the crystals will continue to release more protein at an equivalent rate to for a steady release of nutrients.
If cockroach milk is so good, why haven’t we seen cockroach milk in stores yet?
Hold up, cockroach milk does have it’s drawbacks. For one…
It’s actually pretty high in calories.
Even if it were safe for consumption, it would have to be consumed in small amounts. This is because cockroach milk is also very high in fat, making it more calorific than normal milk. As a comparison, there are around 150 calories in one cup of whole milk while cockroach milk can come up to and around 700 calories for the same amount. This would be bad news for those looking to lose weight, as such a high calory count would only lead to weight gain.
But the main reason why it isn’t mass-produced for consumption just yet is…
Producing cockroach milk is time consuming and far from ethical.
Frida Harju-Westman, a nutritionist, made it a point to say that mass production of cockroach milk would be difficult “as a great number of cockroaches would have to be harvested to obtain a very small glass of the milk”. The scientific website Inverse has calculated that it could take as many as 1,000 cockroaches to make just 100ml of milk. And the process itself is unethical. To get the crystals from the cockroaches, scientists have to cut out the cockroach’s midgut with a scalpel when it’s 40 days old (which is when the cockroach begins to lactate). Obviously, this would kill the cockroach in the process.
And also, let’s be honest, it would be hard to market something like ‘cockroach milk’ to the general public. As of yet, there is a company in South Africa that is selling insect-based ice cream and yes, Asians are more used to eating insects (you must have seen those stalls selling fried insects at some point while living in Asia) but to think of one day asking your local barista to swap out cows milk for cockroach milk in your latte… Well…
*Cover image credits: Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi on Unsplash