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Scientists claim that insects are full of antioxidants, and that drinking “cricket juice” halts cancer
Many of us have eaten something we find unappetizing in the name of good health, but the idea of consuming insects takes the sentiment to a level lots of people are unwilling to go. Although it sounds like something out of a survivalist TV show, some scientists claim that insects are loaded with antioxidants and can provide some impressive health benefits.
In fact, a quarter of our planet’s population eats insects daily, which amounts to around two billion people. As hard as the idea may be for us to swallow, the truth is that these little critters offer fiber, protein and vitamins – and now antioxidants may be added to the list.
However, you shouldn’t run outside with a net just yet. The study looked at edible insects and other invertebrates that are already available commercially for human consumption, and not all of them offer benefits, according to the scientists. In addition, they didn’t look at eating the insects whole. Instead, they removed inedible parts like stingers and wings and then ground them into two materials: the fat from the insects and a fat-free dust.
They tested both substances for antioxidants and found that the fat-free dust of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and silkworms had five times the antioxidants of fresh orange juice. These are all vegetarian bugs; carnivorous insects like black scorpions, black tarantulas, giant water bugs and giant cicadas had negligible antioxidant rankings. Meanwhile, grasshoppers, mealworms and black ants offer high levels of total polyphenols.
The scientists say that even if the dust were to be diluted by 88 percent in water, it would still offer roughly 75 percent of the antioxidants of orange juice. Cricket juice, any one?
Lead author Mauro Serafini commented: “Edible insects are an excellent source of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and fiber. But until now, nobody had compared them with classical functional foods such as olive oil or orange juice in terms of antioxidant activity.”
In addition, the researchers point out that edible insects offer a smaller land, water and carbon footprint than livestock. Their findings were published in Frontiers in Nutrition.
Of course, this is just one study; further research is needed to explore the potential of the antioxidants in insects. First, the true effects of these antioxidants in humans needs to be studied. The study’s authors would also like to see how adjustments to the insects’ diets might impact their antioxidant levels.
Interest is growing around the world in the benefits of insect consumption
American researchers have already tested cricket consumption in humans. In a two-week study, decreases in inflammatory proteins and improved gut health were seen among the group of participants who consumed a breakfast that was enriched with 25 grams of cricket powder.
Moreover, they did not experience any gastrointestinal changes or side effects from such a diet.
In Kenya, where food security is a legitimate concern, crickets are being farmed to help combat malnutrition in children. Their ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 makes them particularly suitable, and they’re a more accessible source of protein for many than meat, fish and eggs.
Experts believe that bug consumption will increase dramatically in the years to come due to rising food costs, and more than 1,000 bug species are believed to be safe for human consumption. Of course, it’s not yet clear just how many of these are truly good sources of protein and antioxidants and just how well they compare to other sources.