New research has shown that edible insects have a high level of antioxidants. Regardless of whether or not you are taking advantage of the health benefits of consuming antioxidants, this is an important nutritional insight.
About one third of the world eats insects. They are a high-protein, potentially environmentally friendly alternative to chicken, pork and beef. However, a research team at the University of Teramo in Italy hopes to open up a new perspective: It is worth investigating insects and using them as a source of other potentially important molecules.
"Insects could be a source of low-impact antioxidants," said Mauro Serafini, a professor at Teramo University and author of the study, to Gizmodo.
Before we enter the insects, we should probably talk about antioxidants. Scientists have long known that the body uses certain molecules, called antioxidants, to counteract the effects of free radicals that can potentially cause cell-damaging chemical reactions. According to Jessica Cooperstone, assistant professor at Ohio State University, who is not involved in this research and is investigating bioactive plants, "the jury is still undecided" as to whether eating antioxidants via food actually has an antioxidant effect on humans. We still have much to do to better understand this.
We know that the foods we consider "healthy", such as fruits and vegetables, are often rich in antioxidants, but it's hard to tell what specific chemicals in our foods they trigger Complexity of diet and lifestyle have on our health?
Now to the insects. The authors crushed commercially available insects, including silkworms, grasshoppers, and tarantulas, and tested how well the insects' fat and water-soluble chemicals acted on a sample of free radicals. Certain beetles such as crickets and silkworms had a stronger antioxidant effect than orange juice. Huge cicadas appeared to be more antioxidant than olive oil.
Please note that this does not say anything about the health benefits of these insects ̵
However, the work shows that insects can be more valuable They contain not only the most basic levels of protein, fat and vitamins, but potentially useful chemicals that are worth investigating. Further research should be done to find out if they can play an important role in our diet.
If you've read this far and thought, "ew, I'm not eating bugs," let me face you a bit. First of all, many insects taste good: black ants have a slightly sour aroma and the texture of caviar. Chapulines are Mexican grasshoppers with a pleasant crunch and taste that resembles salty goji berries. Clam crab. More importantly, livestock requires tons of land and produces a significant amount of greenhouse gases. The seas are overfished. While I personally think that the fight against climate change requires a revolutionary reduction of capitalism and a comprehensive shift to green energy sources such as wind, sun and nuclear power, a shift in our diet to lower-emission proteins could help, according to a 2013 UNO report.
When people are actually ready to try an alternative protein source, such as beetles, Teramo researchers see it as an opportunity. Insect breeders may be able to optimize the diet of an insect to maximize its nutritional content. This is evident, for example, from the article published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
Obviously, more research is needed to find out if the antioxidant component is involved at all. However, insects can be a fascinating new source of nutrients and flavor as cooks continue to experiment with innovative methods of making them.