en en

Nutritional intake of edible bugs in Europe

Unfounded and groundless prejudices against edible insects in Europe

2.5 billion people, mainly in Africa, Asia and Central America, alreday eat insects on a daily basis. And we tend to believe these populations eat bugs because it's a cheap way to fight against hunger and because, basically, they don't have any other choice. Wrong. Our perceptions are often unfounded because dishes cooked by these people are rightly considered tasty. And more than taste, they are seen as interesting from a nutritional point of view.

This diet is not necessarily related to lack of food. Eating insects is in fact a wise choice, if only to enjoy the nutritional benefits they bring to the human body. Their virtues and benefits related to practicing entomophagy have been time and again demonstrated. Studies already decades old converged to the same conclusions: Eating bugs is normal and under some circonstances can be good for your health!


Packed with proteins

After long debates, it is now a fact: edible insects contain tremendous amounts of essential nutrients for growth. Lots and lots of proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

Proteins, we all know, are essential and vital for your body to function properly. This includes building, repairing and renewing some biological organs. And insects possess them in abundance. If we were to study edible cricket for example, we would see they contain three times more proteins than beef for an equal weight. 100g of crickets cover more than half the daily protein requirements of a 70kg adult. The energy value - fat and proteins - can be 5 times higher in insects than in any other animals.

In energy value, a dozen cooked crickets (around 20 grams) is the equivalent to 110g of beefsteak! Impossible to find better elsewhere.


There are vitamins inside edible bugs? Really?

Vitamins must be consumed regularly and in sufficient quantities if we want our metabolism to maintain a good balance. And bugs have plenty of them too!

Among them, we can cite the B1 vitamin, which allows your nervous system and your muscles to function properly. B2 plays a key role in transforming plain food into energy. And finally, B3 vitamin which plays a role in creating red blood cells, helps blood circulation and transportation of oxygen to the cells as well as to the digestive system and nervous system. B3 vitamins are also necessary for your body to synthesis hormones and neurotransmitters.


Bugs and minerals

Also essential to our body, minerals are found in large quantities in edible bugs, such as calcium, iron, zinc and phosphorus.

Calcium is primordial for bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in blood clotting and muscles contraction, especially the heart as well as maintaining blood pressure.

Iron is essential too, especially for oxygen circulation, and to help generating new red blood-cells. Let's not forget Zinc, too, which is a key player in the immune system growth and development (such as scarring & scabbing). Phosphorus meanwhile, helps the maintaining healthy bones and teeth, contributes to tissue growth and regeneration as well as helping maintain body pH at normal levels.


Fatty acids

Our human organism is not able to manufacture all the essential fatty acids it daily needs. To do so, our body must find in food or food supplements. And edible insects possess these essential fatty acids in large numbers: oleic acid - lin. Omega 6 (involved in creating cells membrane). The vast majority of edible bugs are packed full with these nutritional values. We would also like to mention the fact bee larvaes contains very high contents of D-vitamin, too. And did you know grilled tarantula holds the same values as a beefsteak in terms of nutrients? As you see, lots of bugs are good to eat.

Because edible bugs are such a gift from nature, they also contain lots of fibers. So high a level in fact that they contain far more than traditional meat or vegetables. Grasshoppers, crickets or ants contain less than 5% of lipids but lots of other proteins. So many arguments beseeching fans of healthy diets to put them on their menu!

Termites, mealworms and other larvaes are also rich in term of energy intake. It has even been strongly advocated they should be added to the diet of people suffering from undernourishment in poor countries. It is important to remember that meals made from insects not only follow the FAO's recommendations (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations but also those of the WHO (World Health Organization) and the UNU (United Nations University) too.


Entomophagy: overcoming the psychological barrier

In Europe mainly, edible insects generally inspire mistrust, fear and disgust. Our education and culture have led us to believe edible bugs do not hold any kind of culinary values as well as not being a food source meeting all the requirements needed to relieve our eco-system from the tremendous demographic changes it is under-going.

The international scientific community is unanimous: insects may well be the solution to mankind's food needs in the future. But there is still a long way to go before we are able to eat a meal based on insects.