Could cockroach milk be the next superfood?

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Cii Radio|Ayesha Ismail|31 May 2018| 15 Ramadaan 1439

Most people would prefer never to come across a cockroach, especially in a restaurant, but according to scientists the insect’s secretions could soon be making an appearance on menus everywhere.

This is because cockroach milk, or post-natal fluid, is being hailed as the latest foody fad for non-dairy drinkers.

According to researchers from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India, the milk, which is secreted from the critters in the form of crystals to nourish its hatchlings, could be enjoyed by humans too.

Published in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography, scientists revealed that the milk of the Pacific beetle cockroach – otherwise known as Diploptera punctata – boasts many nutritional benefits.

“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars,” Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main researchers, told the Times of India.

“If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”

In fact, the study authors stated that a single crystal of the milk “is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy milk.”

However, cockroach milk isn’t the easiest to come by. As well as the fact that the cockroaches die in the process of extracting the fluid, it would take a whole army of the insects to make up even one glass of milk.

But, that hasn’t stopped some companies from jumping on the trend. South African company Gourmet Grubb has even gone as far as to sell imitation ice cream from “entomilk” – a non-dairy milk made from sustainably farmed insects.

“Think of Entomilk as a sustainable, nature-friendly, nutritious, lactose free, delicious, guilt-free dairy alternative of the future,” the company says on its website.

Gourmet Grubb says Entomilk has a high protein content and is rich in iron, zinc, and calcium.

Despite the claims, many experts insist that there are plenty of other ways to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

“Aside from the fact that there is currently very little research supporting these findings – and it is a very strange concept – there are far easier ways to ensure you get enough energy in your diet,” Rhiannon Lambert, leading Harley Street Nutritionist and author of Re-Nourish: A Simple Way To Eat Well, told The Independent.

“We are constantly seeing new ‘superfoods’ that we ‘should’ add to our diet, yet this often helps us forget that no ‘superfood’ can replace a well-balanced diet.

“As long as you consume a variety of complex carbs, proteins, essential fats and fruits and vegetables, there is no need to resort to any kind of so called ‘miracle’ food or drink.”

Registered dietician, Jo Travers agrees adding: “Just because it contains nutrients doesn’t necessarily mean we need to rush out and eat it.

“There are plenty of other foods that also contain all the amino acids, carbohydrates and fat necessary for life.”

That being said, other experts suggest that, although more research needs to be conducted, insects could be a viable and sustainable source of nutrients for humans.

“In the latest studies it appears that cockroach milk is four times more nutritious than cow’s milk: richer in amino acids, fats and other nutrients,” Martina Della Vedova, nutritionist at Natures Plus told The Independent.

“On one hand insect farms can be easily greener and more sustainable than bovine farming, but on the other hand we don’t know what the effect of this food on us in the long term is and if there is a daily maximum amount we should consider. More studies and investigation should be conducted.”

Source – Independent