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Can Eating Bugs Make You Healthier? A Pharmacist Weighs In

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This post is written by guest writer Lydia Chou, PharmD

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Every one of your doctors, pharmacists, and nurses will unanimously tell you the same advice, in fact, you probably can guess it already: The key to good health begins with making changes to yourself in the form of lifestyle modifications.

In other words, healthy diet and daily exercise. But of course, it’s not always so easy to change the lifestyle you’ve been accustomed to for years in the turn of a doctor’s appointment.  However, you don’t have to start by trashing all your junk food or training for 26-mile marathons, you can start with building up little steps that evolve into a naturally healthier lifestyle. Get extra steps in by parking farther away from your office building, control calories by asking for the salad dressing on the side, choose the sugar-free option for all your beverages.

Lifestyle modifications can be weaved into your life with just a little conscious thought. And now, there’s another way to improve your lifestyle without too much difficulty: Entomophagy, or eating bugs as part of your diet. 

As a pharmacist, I’m skeptical of the benefits of anything without evaluating the scientific evidence. I found that there are many robust articles from scientific journals and the nutritional benefits of eating bugs are undeniable.1-3

Most bugs are rich in proteins, good fats, iron, and essential vitamins and minerals while being low in carbohydrates.  In fact, 100 grams of certain bugs have the same amount of protein as 100 grams of beef.  Crickets and mealworms for example, contain protein comparable to beef, chicken, and pork but with the bonus benefit of reduced fat and saturated fat. (Figure 1)

Figure 1: Comparison of Macronutrients1

In addition, crickets and mealworms are packed with calcium, iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin A at quantities that beef, chicken, and pork don’t even come close to matching. (Table 1) Bugs may not replace fruits and vegetables, but you’ll likely feel less of the drowsy and bloated effects that you would get from a beef burger or bacon sandwich.   

Table 1: Comparison of Select Micronutrients1

If you’re hesitant about the thought of eating bugs, don’t worry. You don’t necessarily have to start by eating handfuls of whole bugs. Explore this website for recipes and ideas for integrating bugs into your food by using cricket flour, cricket chip dips, and grasshopper sauces. Having a diet filled with bugs may help with getting in those extra nutrients and cutting a few pounds. And less weight, means less risk of obesity, and less risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure—chronic conditions that will put you at higher risk for other diseases.

References

1. Payne CLR, Scarborough P, Rayner M, Nonaka K. Are edible insects more or less ‘healthy’ than commonly consumed meats? A comparison using two nutrient profiling models developed to combat over- and undernutrition. Eur J Clin Nutrit. 2016; 70:285-291.

2. Shen L, Li D, Feng F, Ren Y.  Nutritional composition of Polyrhachis vicina Roger

(Edible Chinese black ant). J. Sci. Technol., 2006, 28(Suppl. 1):107-114.

3. Kourimska L, Adamkova A. Nutritional and sensory quality of edible insects. NFS Journal. 2016; 4:22-26.

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