What’s the Deal with Insect Protein?

According to the World Bank, insect consumption (Entomophagy) is a promising protein-packed way to feed the projected global population growth of 9 billion people by 2050.

Even though the mere thought of eating insects might turn your taste buds off, the practice of consuming bugs is already widespread as a result of it nutritional and health benefits. As we speak, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) purports that approximately two billion people globally consume insects as part of their traditional diet.

So, What’s the Deal with Insect Protein?

As a way for the western world to get to grips with the taboo of eating insects, many companies have started developing new and unique ways to utilize insects as an ingredient, without leading to the “Ick” factor.

By grinding down crickets, people have been able to create cricket flour, which, just like almond flour can be used as an alternative ingredient to create high protein meals and snacks.

Let’s be honest, I’m sure you’d much rather eat a protein bar with no physical signs of insects over a full blown plate of bugs, right? Well it’s highly likely one day you will.

Just a search for “cricket protein bars” and you’ll discover, eating insects in the western world, really isn’t that much of a distant possibility. But, why? Why would anyone actually WANT to eat insects…

1. Source of Other Essential Nutrients

According to FAO, insects are packed with crucial nutrients like, proteins, fibre, fat, iron, calcium, zinc, and much more. These nutrients are essential to combating malnutrition in children as well as adults, especially in developing countries. Besides being a rich source of protein, fats, and other nutrients, insects are everywhere, thus a pretty accessible and cost-effective source of food.

2. Insect Protein can help Combat Weight Gain

all the essential nutrients in insects are considered healthy. In fact, the low carbohydrate and fat content in insects have made researchers suggest that insect consumption may be an excellent way to control obesity and its associated ailments.

3. Insect Rearing is Environmentally Friendly

Traditional livestock rearing accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions compared to locust, mealworm, and cricket production. Additionally, Insects release much less methane and ammonia than cattle and pigs. Furthermore, insect production utilizes less land and water than traditional livestock keeping. What’s more? Insect production is also a way to make use of organic wastes, especially for insects that consume organic matter like beetles.

4. Less Feeds Required

Insects require far less feeds compared to pork, beef, and chicken to produce the same quantity of protein. To put things into perspective, it takes 10 kilograms to produce 1 kilogram of beef, of which only 50 percent can be actually consumed. On the other hand, 10 kilograms of feed can produce approximately 9 kilograms of insects, of which more than 95 percent is consumable. Therefore, not only does it cost less to produce insect protein, but also the feed to meat ratio is exceptional. What’s more? Because insects are cold-blooded, they use far less energy than chicken and livestock to keep themselves warm. Thus, more of their food goes towards creating more edible proteins compared to other animals.

5. Insects Are Less Likely to Infect us With Diseases

According to researchers, insects pose a much lower risk of infecting human beings with zoonotic ailments like the mad-cow disease because they are taxonomically distant from humans. Nevertheless, insects should, still, be well cooked prior to consumption to destroy any potentially dangerous pathogens they might be carrying.

6. It Improves the Health of Gut Biomes

According to scientists; insect consumption helps to enhance the health of the large intestine biome. The exoskeleton of insects is not only rich in oligosaccharides but also in prebiotic fibre. Prebiotic fibre acts as a food to probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria), enhancing the efficiency of these bacteria for a healthier gut.

Insect consumption is a common practice in many parts of the world including Asia, Australia, Africa, China, New Zealand, and some developing regions of South and Central America. As we speak, about 1,900 insect species are considered edible. Hopefully, this article has changed your mentality if you are among the group of people who view insect consumption as primitive and disgusting.

Matt Hunt, writer for ProteinPromo. With a master’s degree in exercise science, Matt is an exercise scientist specialising in rehabilitation and athletic development. Between Training clients and writing articles, Matt enjoys discovering new, nutritious goodies.