Today, we are going to look at the top ten insects that you can consume for a big hit of protein!
Did you know that bugs are very nutritious and most of them are perfectly safe for us to eat? We just don’t generally do it, but that’s no reason to avoid doing so in the future!
Have you ever thought about eating bugs?
Many people are starting to recognize that this is a very environmentally friendly way to get the protein that you need, and it’s a viable alternative to vegetarianism.
In the future, we are probably going to move toward eating bugs, but many people find this unappealing!
Today, we are going to look at:
- Which top ten bugs are full of protein
- The nutritional value and protein content of all the bugs
- Whether these bugs are a common source of food anywhere in the world
- How they compare to other food sources and whether they are worth eating
Insect One: Mealworms
One of the most common insects that people think about when they consider edible insects, mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle.
They are considered pests in some countries, because they eat crops, so it is very useful to start turning them into food for people.
So, how good are they in terms of nutrition? They are among the richest edible insects in terms of their protein, and they contain 24 grams per 100 gram serving.
That makes them more packed with protein than Atlantic salmon, and only slightly less so than lean ground beef, which contains 26 grams.
Chicken does contain a bit more protein, at 31 grams per 100 gram serving, but mealworms are still a top competitor.
They also contain omega 3 fatty acids and monosaturated fats, and some studies suggest that they could reduce cholesterol.
Mealworms are found all over the world, and usually inhabit dark, damp places.
They are a popular food because they can be ground into flour, removing the squeamish factor for many people. They also absorb flavors very well when they are cooked with other foods.
Insect Two: Crickets
Traditionally something that we feed to pets like lizards, crickets are also a very nutritious food for us.
They contain massive amounts of protein, being up to 70 percent protein. They can have around 20 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, although some have less than that.
Crickets are quite commonly eaten, and like mealworms, they are often turned into flour or even protein powder. They also contain biotin, folate, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and a lot of iron.
They are slightly lower than beef and chicken in terms of protein content, but very comparable, and they have a great flavor.
Crickets are often used in other dishes, because they lend a nutty flavor and crispy texture to the meal.
Many people cook them into sauces, and they are also a popular dried snack. Unlike some insects, they don’t have an unpleasant aftertaste.
Crickets are also found across the globe, although they mostly live in warm or tropical countries. There are many different kinds of crickets, and people everywhere enjoy eating them.
Insect Three: Soldier Fly Larvae
Protein is important, but so is calcium, and you can get both from the soldier fly larvae. T
hese insects contain 934 mg of calcium per 100 grams, which is more than is contained in milk. In terms of protein, they are also great; they can produce more in a single acre than 3000 acres of cattle.
The exact protein content will vary depending upon what the larvae are fed, but this makes them a very viable food source for humans. Their crude protein is thought to be around 37 grams per 100 gram serving of dried insect.
They may not be as commonly eaten as our first two insect options, but they are growing in popularity because of the immense amount of protein and calcium that they offer. They are also very high in zinc and iron.
They taste good, too, which is always a plus. As a dried snack, they are perfectly enjoyable, and if you would rather cook with them, you can turn them into flour or include them whole in meals.
Insect Four: Ants
Ants are another great snack.
They are found all over the world, in many different species, and they are extremely easy to farm and harvest.
You will get around 14 grams of protein per hundred gram serving (of red ants). That may be lower than some of the other options, but it’s still a good source of protein.
Because ants have a much shorter life cycle than cows or even chickens, they are still a good alternative, even though the protein content is lower.
They do offer other useful nutritional benefits, such as iron, and a good 45 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams. That makes them a good source of food, and they are eaten in many countries already.
Insect Five: Termites
Although these insects are considered highly destructive pests when they invade our homes, they are also a very good food source, and they are often eaten in their home countries, especially in Asia and Africa.
If you want a hit of manganese, which is responsible for bone strength and your immune system, these insects are excellent.
They have more than 100 times the amount of manganese that other insects have, and you could actually overdose on manganese by eating them!
Termites have around 38 percent protein in most cases, making them a very viable source, but one species has a whole 64 percent protein.
That is an amazing amount, far outweighing that of chicken or beef, no matter how you prepare it. With iron, amino acids, and calcium also on offer, these are an excellent source of food.
Insect Six: Buffalo Worms
Probably not one you have heard of as these are not commonly eaten, the buffalo worm has more than 50 percent protein.
They are much softer than many insects, making a different texture if you are struggling with the crunch factor of some of the other options.
These are so widespread nobody really knows where they come from, but it is thought they originated in Africa.
They look like mealworms, but have a shorter lifecycle and can be harvested more quickly. They are a much better source of protein than beef, and an improvement on chicken too.
Insect Seven: Housefly
Would you ever eat a housefly?
Most of us hate these insects, but they are found across the globe and they are very healthy too. They are not commonly eaten, but they are extremely nutritious.
100 grams of a housefly can contain as much as 20 grams of protein, so they are not far off the protein content of ground beef. Again, they are much quicker to raise and harvest than beef can ever be.
They also far outstrip chicken, beef, and salmon when it comes to other nutrients, such as magnesium and zinc. There is also plenty of vitamin B-3 in them.
In terms of iron, they have about six times that which is found in beef, so you will get plenty of this essential mineral by eating flies.
However, you may need to get over the “ick” factor first. You should only eat houseflies that have been raised in a sterile environment so you don’t pick up diseases from the flies.
Insect Eight: Witchetty Grub
These are commonly eaten in Australia, among the Aboriginal people. The grubs taste like almonds if you eat them raw, but you can cook them for a flavor very much like roast chicken – and they are a much healthier food option.
They do only contain 15 percent protein, which is not so high compared with other insects, or with beef at 27 percent or chicken at 80 percent.
Witchetty grubs contain plenty of fat (20%) and lots of potassium and zinc.
They also offer magnesium and vitamin B1, making them a great option for a healthy, well-rounded diet. They are not very commonly eaten outside Australia, however.
Insect Nine: Stink Bugs
This is probably one of the bugs you would least like to eat, but given that they are a pest species with few other uses, they are up there as one of the top bugs that we should be eating.
If you are trying to increase your eco-friendly approach, eating invasive stink bugs could be a good option.
Stink bugs are native to many parts of the world, with different species hailing from different continents. You must remove the head if you want to eat them raw, because this gets rid of the part that gives them their name – the stink.
When dried, these bugs contain 35 percent protein, plus fats, amino acids, vitamins, and plenty of minerals.
You can roast stink bugs for a tasty, crunchy snack, or they can be soaked or sun-dried. Don’t be put off by their notorious smell!
Insect Ten: Beetles
Beetles is a pretty broad category of insects, but they are known for being amazingly high in protein, so they deserve a spot on the list.
A giant water beetle contains around 20 grams of protein in 3.5 ounces of insect, and the palmworm beetle could offer as much as 36 grams of protein.
Beetles are found and eaten across the globe, so no matter where you live in the world, you should be able to source some. It is important to check that the species is edible and find out how to prepare it before eating one, however.
Compared with beef and chicken, these are good sources of protein, and they have much shorter life cycles, so they are a very good alternative.
They also contain zinc and calcium, making them a great food source all round.
Beetles can be eaten raw or roasted for a healthy snack. The flavor will depend on the kind of beetle that you are eating.
Eating insects might not appeal to you enormously, but many people are increasingly aware that the meat industry cannot supply the needs of the human population.
It is also tangled up in cruel, inhumane practices, and has led to outbreaks of mass disease.
Clearly, we need new solutions, and although vegetarianism and veganism are viable alternatives for those who choose to go that way, insects can meet our protein needs in a fraction of the farming space.
They are also very tasty if you can get past your instinctive desire to avoid them!
Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:Top 10 fastest flying insects in the world
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