The Grapevine

Crickets As Superfood: Yea Or Nay?

Some of the most exotic foods can be found in Asia. Cambodia, China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam are among the nations that offer a plate of spiders, scorpions and other insects that may scare your non-Asian blood. But there is a healthy reason why they love such a unique delicacy. 

Insect-based meals have been part of many cultures in these countries. Asian people love insects because they offer a number of health benefits that have been confirmed by a number of scientific studies. 

Insects look scary when alive (or even cooked) but they are nutritious. With the growing number of studies promoting the health benefits of insects, the delicacy has been getting attention from Americans, Medical News Today reported Monday

Health Benefits Of Insects

A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, suggests that insect-based meals may work better and healthier than fruits and vegetables. Researchers from the University of Teramo in Italy found that edible insects can be considered as superfood. 

"Edible insects are an excellent source of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and fiber,” Mauro Serafini, lead study author and a professor at the University of Teramo, said. “But until now, nobody had compared them with traditional functional foods, such as olive oil or orange juice, in terms of antioxidant activity." 

Analyzing 12 different edible insects and invertebrates, Serafini’s team found that insects contain high amounts of antioxidants. For the study, the researchers examined mealworms, buffalo worms, silkworms, palm worm larvae, black ants, African caterpillars, evening cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, mini crickets, giant water bugs, Amazonian giant centipedes, Thai zebra tarantulas and black scorpions.

Results show that insects appear healthier than oranges. Crickets, grasshoppers and silkworms appeared with antioxidants five times more powerful than fresh orange juice. 

Grasshoppers, black ants and mealworms offer the highest amount of polyphenols. 

"Our results show that edible insects and invertebrates are an optimal source of bioactive ingredients and of high quality protein, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids,” the researchers said. “Together with a low environmental impact, highlighting their importance as sustainable novel foods under a nutritional, functional and ecological point of view." 

The team plans to conduct another study to understand the effectiveness and safety of insect-derived antioxidants in humans. 

Insect Food New study suggests that insects are healthier than oranges because of high amounts of antioxidants. Pixabay