People around the world have been eating insects as a key source of nutrition for thousands of years. In fact, the United Nations 2013 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report estimated that nearly 2 billion people eat insects.
Often called entomophagy, this practice is common in many parts of Central and South America, Asia, and Africa, among others. There are many nutritional and health benefits to adding insects to your diet.
Healthy Dietary Option
Insects are small but full of muscle and nutrients like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Bugs like beetles and crickets are low in carbohydrates and they do not have harmful chemicals. You can increase your protein intake while also getting a lot of essential minerals. Bugs can even be healthier than some cereals and lentils. For example, an August 2019 review in Food Science of Animal Resources reported that the protein in insects can be anywhere from 35 to 60 percent of dry weight. Bugs may even match or have more protein than eggs and meat, especially given their low fat rates.
Live a Longer Fuller Life
Adding insects to your diet increases your energy, quality of life and protects you from illness. For example, if you compare 100 grams of crickets with 100 grams of beef, the difference is clear: crickets have only 5.5 grams of fat whereas beef has four times as much, with 21.2 grams. Bugs help you combat issues like heart disease and obesity.
Protect Yourself from Harmful Toxins
Common foods like beef are actually a lot more harmful than insects. Livestock can contain diseases and toxic chemicals. You do not have to worry about increasing your cholesterol when you chow down on nutritious insects. Lastly, toxic chemicals are less common in bugs, which means you can eat items without worrying about dyes and preservatives.
Many Types of Edible Insects Gives You Options
There are many insects you can add to your diet. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars are some of the most commonly consumed. Some estimates say that there are nearly 2,000 types of insects that are edible. If you are hesitant, start small by adding bugs as a snack or putting them in other snacks like yogurt. Dogs, cats and other pets may be more willing. However, it can take a bit to change their diet. Add insects to their regular good and they will eventually get a taste for it.
Be Aware of Cultural Bias
People around the world have proven that insects are not harmful. Cultural biases are learned and most prominent in Western countries. If people have never had bugs before, then they may be more worried about the fear of the unknown. Just because something is not popular does not mean it is wrong. Breaking through cultural biases means dissecting society’s influence. Thankfully, eating insects is becoming more common thanks to restaurants that sell dishes like spicy worms, grocery stores with black ant goat cheese and pet stores that sell cricket dog treats.
Many People Currently Eat Insects
Insects are already apart of many people’s diets without them realizing it. Insect fragments are found in common fruits and vegetables and in popular foods like peanut butter and chocolate. Bugs are everywhere, and it is nearly impossible to keep them away from foods and manufacturing plants. Consuming insects is not harmful in any way. The only thing getting in many peoples’ way is societal stigma.
Cheaper Food Option Fights Food Insecurity
Food scarcity has been aggravated by overfished and polluted oceans, climate change and water shortages. Conversely, insects are everywhere. Given all of the edible insects that exist, bugs are accessible and an often cheap food option. Insects can really battle food insecurity issues. People do not have to go hungry when they add bugs like crickets and caterpillars to their diet.
Better for the Environment
Large farms can be harmful to the environment. It takes a lot of water to care for livestock and harvest crops. There is also a lot of the pollution caused by machinery that uses a lot of electricity. Some farms do a lot of harm to animals when they inject them with chemicals and keep them from running around, all in an effort to fatten them up for sale. Carbon footprints soar when goods have to be transported from farms to be sold. Insects are a more ethical food product to invest in.
Gradually Add Bugs to Your Diet
Adding insects to you or your pet’s diet does not have to happen overnight. There are flours and other baking items that have bugs in them. Try a chocolate covered snack or try mixing it with other food first. Combining insects with falors you already like makes the transition a lot easier. You will see the health benefits quickly: increased energy, a vibrant glow and maybe even weight loss.
Short- and Long-Term Health Benefits
Protein from insects will increase your energy and help you lose weight. Your overall quality of life improves because you may be able to focus more, increase your stamina, and increase your digestive health. Other rich benefits of bugs include brighter smoother skin, reduce inflammation, and prevent constipation.
Where to Start With Eating Insects
Start with Crickets
If you want a place to start, think about investing in some crickets. These insects have a crispy crunch, taste great with chocolate, or they can be hidden in other foods. Crickets also contain probiotics that protect you from illness. Cricket flour is a great way to whip up protein bars or dog treats. You will not even notice the difference.
Grasshoppers are one of the most commons insects consumed, which are low in carbs and high in protein. They are especially rich in antioxidants.
Mealworms Offer Versatility
Mealworms are easy to cook with. You can dry them, boil them, steam them, dry them or roast them. This insect is known as one of the leanest options.
Termites are known for their high levels of manganese. Adding these bugs to your diet increases metabolism, your immune system, and supports strong bones.
Incorporate Insects into Favorite Dishes
If you want to get used to bugs, add them to a favorite dish. For example, you can chop up crickets and add a small amount to a pasta dish. You should also try to include bugs with foods that have a similar texture. For example, crunchy crickets go well with crunchy friend rice.
Try Different Shapes and Forms
You can add insects to your diet in many different ways. Think about taking off any wings or legs to chop them up, or you can blend them into dishes. There are flours made with Buffalo worms or crickets that you can make pizza crust with or baked goods. You can replace up to a third of the flour in most dishes. If you whip up some banana bread using insect flours, most people cannot even taste the difference.
How to Store Edible Insects
Insects are like any other part of your pantry. You can freeze them for later or store them in airtight jars. Play around with different seasonings to see how different flavors interact. For example, you boiling, broiling, or frying insects will all bring out different flavor nuances. Use the same amount of salt, pepper, garlic, oil, butter or other baking ingredients to your insect-based dishes.
Noshing on bugs is a great way to up your protein, add more nutrients to your diet and lower your cholesterol. Why let societal issues keep you from consuming insects. Bugs are the food for the future because they are healthy, environmentally friendly and affordable. As you get used to insects, they can become a regular part of your diet. Think about other foods you may not have been comfortable with when you were younger. Changing your taste palate involves some creativity and commitment. Insects are an alternative food option that will help you get protein, stay healthy, and leave a positive impact on the world.