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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Are Cockroaches the Key to Gluten-free Bread Nirvana?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Is flour made from the lowly cockroach the new gold-standard for gluten-free baking?

    Caption: Will flour from cockroaches be the future of gluten-free baking? Photo: CC--SiamesePuppy

    Celiac.com 03/09/2017 - It's cheaper, more nutritious, and properly delicious. Will gluten-free flour made from cockroaches change the way bread is made?

    There's a great article over at Munchies. It's about two scientists from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, who have developed flour made from ground cockroaches that contains 40 percent more protein than normal wheat flour. Oh, and it happens to be gluten-free. Excited yet? Grossed out?

    As part of their research, food engineering students Andressa Lucas and Lauren Menegon discovered a new way of producing cheaper, more nutritious food with the cockroach flour, since it contains a large amount of essential amino acids and some lipids and fatty acids as well—the keys for a balanced and healthy human diet.

    These cockroaches are not the ones we find running or flying in city sewers or drains. They are a particular species, Nauphoeta cinerea, to be precise, and procured from a specialized breeder, where they are hygienically produced and fed on fruits and vegetables to meet all hygiene requirements required by ANVISA, the Brazilian health surveillance agency.

    So, these are certified clean cockroaches, okay? And not only is the flour itself gluten-free, it's extremely high protein. Lucas and Menegon found that a bread containing just 10% cockroach flour presented a protein increase of 49.16 percent, when compared to bread made only with wheat flour. Also, at that ratio, the cockroach flour bread loaves keep the same flavor as their non-insect counterparts.

    So, given the high protein, and the desirable elastic qualities, it seems a natural for someone to test out some gluten-free breads that use cockroach flour. We promise you updates on these and other gluten-free stories. Meantime? Tell us what you think. It obviously sounds gross, but what if cockraoch flour makes good gluten-free bread? Are you in or out?

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    Many celiacs have concomitant allergies--arising out of leaky gut. If shellfish is one of your allergies, you might want to think twice about insect based flours--their chitin coatings can trigger the same kind of allergic response.

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    For some of us who are gluten-free with additional food sensitivities and allergies -- how would they guarantee no chitin? Chitin is highly allergenic. I could probably get used to eating bug flour, but not if it was just another allergen. I already can't eat any of the the gluten-free items out there which have soy, or xanthum gum, or peanut oil, or canola oil, or amaranth, or spelt, or anything from the grass family, including bamboo shoots.

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    If you have not, check out a book by Menzel and D'Aluisio, called, "Man Eating Bugs, the Art and Science of Eating Insects", your entire family will love it. If our planet is to survive our inability to self regulate this crazy need to over populate, we will need to find a more sustainable source of protein. Crickets, spiders, ants, grub, there are millions of edibles out there for the taking. Most everyone I know have an eeeuw factor, including myself, but I do want to eat bugs, I would feel less guilty eating bugs than I do chicken. Personally, I would like to eat bugs as a high protein snack food, something less processed than flour for bread. The new chip of the month. Cockroaches have such a bad reputation--could be a hard sell, but I like it! Someone is thinking!

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    UGH! no thanks, I'll stick with my own home made gluten-free bread which is delicious, contains maize starch,tapioca starch,banana flour and ground flax seed which together pack in quite a few nutrients. Anyway as I see it there is already enough food to feed the world but there is very bad organization which makes industrial nations waste so much and poorer nations die of starvation.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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