The superfood of the future could come from an unlikely and disgusting source.
Cockroach milk may be the single most nutrient-rich substance ever identified, researchers say.
The lowly and repulsive cockroach produces a milk-like substance that is four times as nutritious as cow’s milk and is loaded with protein crystals.1Unlike mammals, this “milk” feeds their babies during pregnancy—not after they’re born.
But don’t expect to see cockroach farms springing up in Wisconsin. An international team of scientists is replicating the milk in laboratories and studying its potential as a health supplement.
The type of cockroach you’ve likely encountered is the German cockroach. It is the species that is most common in the U.S. But it doesn’t produce milk.
When researchers analyzed their milk, they were astounded to find glitter-like protein crystals packed with nutrients.
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“The crystals are like a complete food,” said Dr. Sanchari Banerjee. “They have proteins, fats, and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids.”
Dr. Banerjee works at the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India. She is a co-author of the roach milk study.2
Dr. Subramanian Ramaswamy, who led the project, added: Roach milk “can be a fantastic protein supplement. It’s time-released food. If you need food that is calorically high, that is time released, and food that is complete… This is it.”
It contains three times more calorie-dense protein than buffalo milk—the current nutritional gold standard in the animal kingdom. Another benefit is its rapid absorption, which could make it particularly valuable to athletes.
The researchers have identified the chemical structure of the milk’s super-healthy protein crystals. But instead of milking roaches, they have figured out a way to use yeast to replicate it.3
Their work was published in the journal of the International Union of Crystallography. The scientists believe the new superfood has the potential to ease food shortages around the world by providing a single life-saving source of nutrition.4
Dr. Ramaswamy is realistic about the challenge of marketing roach milk.
“I don’t think anyone is going to like it if you tell them, ‘We extracted crystals from a cockroach and that is going to be food,’” he said.5
5 Everyday Protein-Loaded Foods
Protein-rich cockroach milk might one day be the answer. Until then, we recommend a high-protein Paleo-style diet. Protein is the building block of bones, muscles, blood, the brain, and skin. Eating more protein also helps you feel fuller longer. This means you’ll be better able to avoid weight gain without hunger pangs.
Here are five foods among the highest in protein:
- Spinach. This leafy wonder is loaded with a nitrate that increases the production of two proteins critical to muscle strength. Research shows a cup of spinach per day can help seniors retain muscle tone.
- Eggs. Men in particular should eat eggs regularly. They are loaded with protein that helps maintain muscle. They also contain essential amino acids that make protein easier to absorb. Whatever you do, don’t skip the yolks. New research shows they will not raise your cholesterol. Make sure you buy organic pastured eggs. The hens are given no antibiotics or other dangerous drugs and eat a natural diet. Organic eggs have more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Beef. More than half the calories in beef are from protein. Two cuts are especially protein-rich. They are the eye of round and sirloin tip, which is sometimes referred to as “knuckle steak.”6 Always buy grass-fed organic beef whenever possible.
- Chicken breast. We often forget how protein-rich the old reliable chicken breast is. About 80% of a skinless breast’s calories are from protein, making it one of the all-time protein-rich foods. Buy organic to make sure you are not getting meat tainted with antibiotics and other drugs.7
- Fish. Not all fish are created equal when it comes to protein. North Atlantic halibut is the top protein-rich fish. It’s even higher than tuna and wild-caught salmon, which are other excellent choices. Due to its habitat, halibut is also low in contaminants found in other fish.8
Other good sources of protein include almonds, broccoli, and quinoa.9,10
In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch