Eating bugs: Nutrition is proven but not their effects

Nytimes.com last September shared that the American market for edible insects exceeded $55 million in 2017 and is expected to keep climbing as more companies create nutritionally appealing products.

Bugs: We squish them, spray them and shoo them. But eat them?

A large percentage of the world’s population — an estimated 2 billion people, in fact — already eat insects because of nutritional content and accessibility, according to anthropology resource sapiens.org: “In Thailand, street vendors push carts stocked with trays of deep-fried grasshoppers, water bugs and other seasoned insects. In Mexico, chefs mix cream-colored ant eggs into omelets and whip up guacamole with crunchy grasshoppers. In Zambia, the Congo and other parts of Africa, locals snack on insects harvested from the wild.”

However, Americans as a whole may need convincing.

“It is a fact that many insects can be a good source of protein,” said Michelle Abbey, registered dietician nutritionist in San Diego. “I could see the argument for insects being a solution to food insecurity issues, but there is the cultural acceptability issue, which could take time to turn around.”

A new study offered July 15 in sciencedaily.com evaluated antioxidant levels in commercially available edible insects and determined that crickets provide 75% of the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice. Silkworm fat was found to be twice that of olive oil.

The study also established other nutritional benefits of edible insects, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, various vitamins (depending on insect) and fiber.

Asserts sciencedaily.com: ”… for open-minded health freaks, it’s good news …” And nytimes.com last September shared that the American market for edible insects exceeded $55 million in 2017 and is expected to keep climbing as more companies create nutritionally appealing products.

Abbey cautions superfood seekers to tread lightly.

“I would be concerned about the source of insects for consumption, as their conditions and feed will have a large impact on their quality for our diet,” she said. “Some insects may produce toxic substances, or may cause an allergic reaction. Also, little is known about the mircrobiota of insects and how that might affect our own microbiome.“
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