Insects small and large can provide some very surprising nutritional benefits such as giving the body protein and fats. Bugs contain natural sources of protein and a wide array of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Lucinda Backwell, a paleneontologist, said that termites contain a great amount of protein, amino acids and fats in the diets of both modern humans and primates. Backwell continues by saying that since a rump steak has 322 calories for every 100 grams and a cod fish has 74 calories, termites have 560 calorie for every 100 grams. The protein count for insects is very high. For example, yellow meal worms contain between 14 and 25 grams of protein for every 100 grams in fresh weight. Locusts, grasshoppers and termites have 13 to 28 grams of protein. As a comparison, fish, chicken and beef have between 15 to 26 grams for every 100 grams of raw weight.
Bugs also contain different types of fats and usually provide alpha-linolenic and linolenic fatty acids. Termites are high in oleic acid, which is found in olive oil and palmitoleic acid that make up one-third of an insect’s fat content. Palmitoleic acid is known as omega 7 and has been recently reported to have anti-inflammatory effects and improve sensitivity to insulin. Adrienne Brewster, the curator of an insect exhibit called BugFeast, said that insects are a good source of protein and high in fats, vitamins and minerals. Brewster also said that these creatures have been eaten as a source of food for thousands of years and are still found in diets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She says that people would be helping the planet by eating more of them.
While bugs can provide surprising nutritional benefits, they can also help the world. Brewster says that insects release 10 times less greenhouse gases than livestock. She also says that it takes less space to raise the same amount of protein and that people can raise enough bugs to feed a family of four in a shoebox. A study published in the journal of PLOS One in 2010 says that for every kilogram of mass, also known as weight, an insect gained, it created half as much carbon dioxide as cattle. The bugs also created less methane gas and ammonia. The study also said that insects gained weight at a quicker rate than large animals, which meant that they could be taken to the market faster while causing less harm to the environment.
These creatures can aid countries that suffer from deficiencies and malnourishment. For example, some countries are using the amino acids in insects to complement other less nutritious foods such as grain, which do not contain important amino acids. In Papua New Guinea, palm weevil larvae contain leucine and lysine for people who consume insects and can give those individuals two amino acids that are absent in starchy vegetables. Termites also contain important amino acids in areas of Africa that use maize, which lacks lysine and tryptophan, as a main food source.
Insects can give people important nutrients such as protein, vitamins and fats. Some insects contain amino acids, which can help people reduce inflammation. Bugs can also help countries that are malnourished and the environment. Even though insects can provide surprising nutritional benefits, it is advised by experts that people are careful about how much of the bugs they eat because if too much of a certain species of insect is eaten then the species could be in danger. Bugs should also be consumed safely to avoid possible health risks.
By Jordan Bonte