The latest superfood could be cockroach milk, according to a study published this month in the journal International Union of Crystallography. Apparently, the milk-like protein crystals produced by the Diploptera punctata cockroach is high in nutrients and rich in calories.
The study led by researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India explains that D. punctata is also known as the Pacific beetle cockroach. It is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young and feed them with its milk, which contains protein crystals.
According to the study’s lead researcher Subramanian Ramaswamy, a single crystal contains more than three times the energy of an equivalent mass of dairy milk. The research team is now planning to mass produce these crystals.
This does not mean that the scientists will begin milking the cockroach. Instead, they plan to replicate the crystals in the lab.
Cockroach milk might be disgusting and may not be immediately popular to consumers once available in the market. However, the research team insists that the milk provides good benefits to the body. In fact, this could even be a great protein supplement.
“The crystals are like complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” points out lead researcher Banerjee during an interview with the Times of India.
The milk-like protein crystals can also have other uses aside from being a food source. The research team adds that the scaffolding in the protein crystals have characteristics that can be utilized to create nanoparticles that can be used to administer medicines.
The findings are now available in the journal International Union of Crystallography with the title, “Structure of a heterogeneous, glycosylated, lipid-bound, in vivo-grown protein crystal at atomic resolution from the viviparous cockroach Diploptera punctata.”