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Rare High Protein Food: This is What Scientists Really Want You to Eat – and It May Surprise You

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Forget about eggs, nuts, lean meats, fish, dairy, and grains – this is the newest superfood

New research from Macquarie University suggests that snake meat could become a sustainable and efficient source of protein, potentially boosting food security. Unlike traditional livestock, farmed pythons offer white meat that is exceptionally high in protein content.

Proteins play a vital role in maintaining overall health, supporting various functions such as cell structure, immune response, movement, and hormone synthesis. These essential molecules are composed of amino acids, nine of which are crucial as the body cannot produce them independently, necessitating their intake through diet.

Notably, protein consumption contributes to satiety, aiding in weight management and promoting a healthy body weight. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein stands at 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kilogram), representing the minimum requirement to fulfill the body’s needs.

While conventional protein sources include eggs, nuts, lean meats, fish, dairy, and select grains, the emergence of snake meat as a viable option underscores the potential for diversifying protein sources and addressing global food challenges.

As scientists delve deeper into the nutritional benefits and sustainability of snake farming, it could revolutionize the way we approach protein production and consumption.

“In terms of food and protein conversion ratios, pythons outperform all mainstream agricultural species studied to date,” points out Honorary Research Fellow Dr. Daniel Natusch from the School of Natural Sciences.

“We found pythons grew rapidly to reach ‘slaughter weight’ within their first year after hatching.”

According to the researcher, “Snake meat is white and very high in protein.”

The multi-institutional study team includes scientists from Macquarie University, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, the University of Adelaide, the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi.

The findings are reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

They studied reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus) and Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) raised on commercial python farms in Thailand and Vietnam, examining the impact of various feeding protocols.

Global food insecurity

In the face of mounting pressures from climate change, diseases, and dwindling natural resources, conventional agriculture is struggling to meet the food needs of many, particularly in low-income countries already grappling with acute protein deficiencies, according to Dr. Natusch.

Recognizing the failures of traditional agrifood systems, interest is shifting towards alternative food sources, he adds.

Snake meat emerges as a promising solution, offering a sustainable, high-protein, and low-saturated fat option that is already widely consumed in South East Asia and China.

“However, while large-scale python farming is well established in Asia, it has received little attention from mainstream agricultural scientists,” points out Dr. Natusch.

Snakes possess unique traits that make them particularly suited for farming. Requiring minimal water and sustenance, they can thrive on rodents and pests, while historically, they were considered a delicacy in many regions.

“Our study suggests python farming complementing existing livestock systems may offer a flexible and efficient response to global food insecurity,” Dr. Natusch emphasizes.

Examining the economic and adaptability benefits, Professor Rick Shine from Macquarie University’s School of Natural Sciences underscores the advantages of raising pythons over traditional livestock like pigs.

“Birds and mammals waste about 90% of the energy from the food they eat, simply maintaining a constant body temperature,” Professor Shine explains.

Innovative feeding trials revealed that pythons could digest vegetable protein alongside their carnivorous diet, demonstrating the potential to utilize agricultural waste effectively.

“They are hugely more efficient at turning the food they eat into more flesh and body tissue than any warm-blooded creature ever could,” Dr. Natusch elaborates.

While snake farming holds promise in regions where it aligns with cultural practices, its adoption in countries like Australia or Europe remains uncertain, according to Professor Shine.

“I think it will be a long time before you see python burgers served up at your favorite local restaurant here.”

Image Credit: Getty

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