6 insects that are good to eat and their nutritional value

It may give you goosebumps, but some insects are good sources of protein and unsaturated fat. Not surprisingly, they are the basis of non-Western diets.

The idea of ​​eating edible insects may seem strange to Westerners, but entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects, is anything but new in Asia, Africa, and South America. Many cultures have incorporated insects into their diets for centuries. At the same time, it is part of the diet of the future. We will need alternative foods that can be raised in small environments and are easy to grow. Insects respond to this problem.

When it comes to health, insects tick several nutritional boxes. Think of an insect. It’s very small, but imagine a flying bee or a jumping grasshopper. They need a lot of muscle and energy to do these things. You benefit from them when you eat them. In general, insects are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and contain essential minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. They are also high in unsaturated fats, which are a healthier source of fat than saturated fat.

According to one study, the protein content of edible insects ranges from 35% to 60% dry weight (after processing) or 10% to 25% fresh weight, which is higher than that of vegetable protein sources such as grains, soy and lentils and can sometimes be superior to meat and eggs. Its fat content is very variable, from 10 to 60%, and it is mainly healthy and unsaturated fats, he adds.

The environmental benefits of eating insects

Eating insects could potentially help solve food access, cost, and environmental issues. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has published a report on the horizon of 2050, when the world population will be estimated at 9,000 million inhabitants. The report recognizes that insects are a more sustainable option to deal with food shortages due to lack of agricultural land, overfishing in the oceans, the effects of climate change and water scarcity. Raising insects requires much less water, land and feed than conventional animals such as cattle.

There are about 2,000 species of insects that are eaten around the world. The promotion of edible insects does not mean that you have to go looking for them in your garden. It is about raising them in really clean environments. Insects must eat organic food; if they feasted on pesticide-laden food, they would die. Today, you can buy products where insects have been turned into flours you can use in everyday cooking and baking, or where they are combined with familiar flavors or made into familiar foods (such as bars or cookies).

If you’ve never considered eating bugs, that’s fine. But don’t dismiss them, they are a staple in many cultures. Do you eat crabs, lobsters and shrimp? They are close relatives of insects and feed on the ocean floor. Everything is in the mind. Consider experimenting to see if you adopt different products.

Here are six bugs to add to your plate and the potential health benefits they offer.

What insects are edible?

1 Crickets are a great entry level insect and contain probiotics.

If you’re not ready to eat this whole insect, crunchy and all, a good start is cricket food. For 2 tablespoons of cricket flour there are 50 calories, 6 grams (g) of protein, 2.5 g of fat (0.5 saturated) and less than 1 g of carbohydrates. There is also preliminary evidence that crickets promote gut health, as their consumption stimulates the growth of certain health-promoting probiotics.

2 Mealworms are a versatile ingredient

Go ahead, dry, roast, roast, fry, boil, steam or microwave the mealworms to eat, anything is possible. The research looks at mealworms as a food source, and the authors note that grilling them gives them a smell of steamed corn. After drying and processing, mealworm larvae contain 50% protein and 30% fat. This amount of fat is similar to that in whole milk powder, the researchers note, so it’s not the leanest option.

Photo credit: freepik

3 Termites are rich in minerals such as magnesium

You would never want to find them alive in your home as they can cause massive destruction, but African and Asian cultures eat termites with relish. According to one study, termites are extremely high in manganese, a mineral that plays a role in metabolism and is essential for strong bones and immune function. Termites contain up to 100 times the concentration of this mineral compared to other insects. In fact, they can contain more than the safe limit of manganese when eaten whole.

4 grasshoppers provide antioxidants

Do you like shrimp? Grasshoppers taste similar to this beloved seafood. To make them edible, the wings and legs are removed. They are high in protein and fat, but low in carbohydrates. In Mexico, crickets are featured in tacos and as a topping for guacamole. In Japan they are eaten fried with soy sauce. You can include them in your diet to fight diseases: grasshoppers are among the insects richest in antioxidants. They contain 5 times more antioxidants than fresh orange juice.

5 Black soldier fly larva, a satisfying snack

Although one study noted that black soldier fly larvae are not among the most commonly consumed insects, they are accessible. Buying them already roasted is another way to try edible insects. A 2-tablespoon serving contains 50 calories, 3.5 g fat, 4 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, and 2 g fiber, making it a balanced snack.

6 Cicadas are a great snack to eat if you are a fan of shrimp.

In some years, you may see many cicadas in your area, and these critters are edible and generally low in fat and high in protein. If you have live cicadas, you should freeze them first to kill them humanely. That said, people with shellfish allergies should not eat cicadas, as they are related to shrimp and lobsters. They can also contain mercury, so if you’re pregnant or nursing, you should avoid cicadas. Also avoid them if you suffer from gout.

These insects even taste similar to shrimp. To enjoy them at home, just fry them or bathe them in a good mayonnaise.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information provided can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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