It’s easy to find milk made from rice, almonds, soy beans, and hemp in most health food stores, but milk derived from cockroaches may be a harder sell. As Popular Science reports, the milky protein crystals produced by a certain roach species contain at least four times the nutritional value of cow’s milk.

The Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata) is one of the few roaches to give birth to live offspring. Mother Pacific beetle cockroaches nourish their embryos with a nutrient-packed liquid substance that’s high in sugar, fat, protein, and amino acids. According to new research published in the journal IUCrJ, this roach “milk” is one of the most nutritious and calorie-dense foods known to science. Buffalo milk, which has a higher calorie content than that of most animal milk, only packs one-third of the energy of roach milk crystals.

Cockroaches don’t lend themselves as easily to milking as dairy cows, so any commercial product would likely be synthetic. Researchers are currently looking into bioengineering yeast to produce the substance in a lab, and they still need to test whether or not it's toxic to humans. If they come up with a successful version, roach milk manufacturers will still face the challenge getting consumers to try it. Cricket flour-based products are slowly making their way into the mainstream, so perhaps there’s room on the market for one more insect-inspired health food.

[h/t Popular Science]

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