Insects… The Next Super Food or Ingredient?

Insects… The Next Super Food or Ingredient?
  • Dr. Taylor Wallace
  • August 22, 2017

Are you interested in in positively effecting global food sustainability and food security?  The answer might just be crawling around in front of us!  Ever thought of biting into a cricket muffin?  Did you know food scientists have been using insects such as Cochineal (i.e., a natural red color) in the food supply for decades?  Are you intrigued or completely grossed out?  Either way, keep reading with an open-mind…

Insects are both a nutritious and sustainable source of high-quality protein.  Let’s face it… a lot of things we eat are gross, at first sight!  Imagine a chicken farm or spices that are laid out under the open sun to dry… but together they sure do make for a safe, tasty and healthy grill out.  Modern technologies reinforce cleanliness and transform many raw commodities into enjoyable food products.

While you might not think high-quality protein is a big deal, at least in the United States, much of the carbon footprint of the food supply comes protein-rich foods… but not bugs!  In third-world countries, protein deficiencies are still widespread partially due to availability and cost of animal-derived products… yet another problem that could potentially be bugged!

But there’s more than just the high-quality protein argument…

Insects are rich in omega-3 fats or the so called “good fats,” which studies have shown to be linked to decreases in heart disease and age-related cognitive decline.  Many essential nutrients like vitamins A & E, iron, and magnesium are also present in insects, depending on the species.  Talk about the perfect pre-workout blend!

Food scientists at Colorado State University have been working on incorporating cricket proteins into muffins.  “My kids love them!” says Dr. Tiffany Weir, Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at CSU.  “They were reluctant at first, but now my 10-year-old and his friends think it’s so cool to eat cricket muffins.”

Older individuals can definitely benefit from higher protein intakes.  A new study of mine that published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that consuming protein above current recommended levels (0.8 g per kilogram of body weight per day) resulted in a 16% decrease in hip fractures among elderly individuals (click here).  Higher intakes of protein have also been known to help prevent muscle loss and thus falls in the elderly.  Athletes and active individuals obviously need more protein for building muscle.

Since protein is also satiating it might just make sense to bite into a more sustainable cricket muffin every morning!

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