- Consuming crickets is beneficial to gut health and can reduce inflammation in the body. They boost the growth of a probiotic called Bifidobacterium animalis, which is known to improve gut function.
- Cricket consumption could be a sustainable change due to their environmental benefits. They require less feed, land, and water, and produce fewer greenhouse gases than traditional livestock.
- Despite the initial possible discomfort with the idea of insect consumption, such a diet is nutritious and often delicious. The nutritional value and high fiber content can contribute significantly to overall health.
- Despite the potential benefits, it’s important to note that those with an allergy to shellfish may also be allergic to crickets.
Crunchy and chirpy protein making room on your plate might just contribute to your health, according to new studies. Specifically, the consumption of crickets could potentially enhance the natural bacteria in your gut (microbiome) and decrease inflammation within your body.
The Probable Health Benefits Of Insects
In a modest pilot trial, scientists fed 20 volunteers a cricket-enriched breakfast for two weeks. However, the plate looked healthier as the crickets were grounded into powder made into muffins or shakes.
“Inclusion of insects in our diet may be novel and strange, but their nutritional value, rich in important nutrients and fibers, can potentially contribute to our overall health, including our gut microbiome,” stated the lead author of the study, Valerie Stull, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Sustainability and Global Environment.
Overcoming The Insect-Eating Taboo
For people who feel queasy just by thinking of consuming bugs, Stull has a thought to ponder. “Although many Americans initially struggle with the idea of eating insects, if one is willing to try, you’d be surprised to find them nutritious and often delicious,” she said.
She drew a comparison between a cricket and a lobster, stating, “What’s the real difference? One arthropod is on land, the other in the ocean.”
Globally Consumed, Environmentally Sustainable
Stull reveals that around 2 billion people across the globe include bugs in their regular diets. Her interest in environmental sustainability is what drew her towards utilizing insects as food.
“Edible insects are abundant, and when farmed, they can provide high-quality protein with significantly lesser environmental impact compared to traditional livestock. They require lesser feed, land, and water, and generate fewer greenhouse gases,” Stull elucidated.
Crickets: A Nutritious Addition To Breakfast
Under this research, volunteers consumed either a regular breakfast or one comprising muffins or shakes blended with cricket powder for two weeks. This routine was followed by two weeks of normal eating. Subsequently, the type of breakfast was switched.
Crickets, along with other insects, contain fibers like chitin which are distinct from the dietary fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Certain fiber types assist in the growth of beneficial body bacteria known as probiotics.
The study revealed that consuming crickets in the morning bolstered the proliferation of a probiotic called Bifidobacterium animalis, which is known to improve gut function. Analysis of blood and stool samples also indicated a reduction in inflammation, which has ties to disorders like depression and cancer.
Is It A Sustainable Change?
Registered dietician Samantha Heller reviewed the study’s findings and stated, “The study was really small and short, so it remains unclear if these changes would persist, even if people kept on with the cricket breakfast.”
If you are curious and want to enhance your body’s microbiome, her advice is to “eat a healthy, plant-based diet, engage in regular physical activity, and manage stress.”
Given the fast-changing nature of the microbiome, it’s essential to consume fiber-rich insects like crickets regularly to retain the benefits.
Insects As Food: Worth A Try?
If this study has sparked your curiosity, and you’re now keen on trying insects, Stull reassures that edible insects are commercially available. Powder versions are also accessible and can be added to muffin mixes or other food items.
However, as a word of caution for prospective influential cricket eaters – if you’re shellfish allergic, there’s a chance you might carry an allergy to crickets as well.
This study was published recently in the online journal Scientific Reports.
Learn more about insect consumption from this NPR article.