Updated: May 12
As 2019 comes to a close, and the new year (and decade) approaches, you might be starting to consider your goals for 2020. Inevitably these will entail practising a healthier lifestyle, or perhaps helping out the environment one way or another.
Well, let us point you in the right direction to achieve these goals...
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Insects. Why is 2020 the year of the bug?
Yes, that's right. Insects are packed full of wonderful nutrients that will have a positive impact on your body, enabling it to function at its prime. Simply put, they're already an indispensable dietary component for 2 billion people around the world.
Each serving packs an impressive punch of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. Oh, and did we mention they're incredibly sustainable to produce and pose little threat to the environment?
What else could you expect from the largest and most diverse group of organisms on Earth?
Let's break down some of the awesome health benefits of incorporating insects into your diet.
Insects, including mealworms, contain seriously impressive levels of B12. In fact, a 100g serving of crickets packs in 12 x more vitamin B12 than beef and salmon, and 100 x more than chicken.
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that keeps the body's nerve and blood cells healthy, as well as making DNA (the genetic material in all cells). It also helps prevent anaemia, a type of deficiency that makes a person feel tired and weak.
Studies have shown that a staggering 40% of Americans are deficient in B12. Well, good news for you if you're unsure as to how to incorporate this essential vitamin into your diet, insects are the answer.
Now protein is really having its time in the spotlight currently, and for all the right reasons. If you're looking to up your intake, but are trying to reduce meat consumption, no need to stress over this dilemma...
House crickets contain approximately 21 grams of protein per 100 grams of cricket, while ground beef and powdered whole milk only contain 5g more, at 26 grams of protein.
Gram for gram, mealworms actually beat Atlantic Salmon in terms of protein power!
A 2019 study examining the antioxidant content of commercially available insects found that extracts of grasshopper, cricket and silkworms displayed antioxidant capacity 5x greater than fresh orange juice.
Antioxidants are substances which act in protecting the body from free radicals - molecules which can cause cancer, heart disease, and damage cells generally.
Fat from giant cicadas and silkworms showed twice the antioxidant activity of olive oil. Olive oil, and other so-called 'super-foods' are named because of their antioxidant-rich profile, with familiar products including nuts, kale, blueberries and dark chocolate. It's time to add insects to the list!
Although we're not advocating for freshly-squeezed grasshopper juice, try serving them roasted or fried, as they take on the flavour of whatever they're cooked with.
Another wonderful feature of insects is their levels of fat. They have a high content of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can total up to 70% in some insects.
Now diet culture has led to fat having an unfair, negative rep in the past, but don't be fooled. Fat, especially of the unsaturated variety, is essential in providing the body with energy and supporting cell growth. It also protects your organs and helps the body absorb nutrients and produce important hormones.
Edible insects are one of the few animal sources that contain higher unsaturated fats than unhealthy saturated fats. This means you can increase your healthy fat intake while keeping your protein intake high by swapping out beef for mealworms!
Another bonus of insects' high-fat content is that they make a wonderful calorie-dense source of nutrition for areas suffering from famine around the globe - a real benefit considering the impending global food crisis.
Insects contain significant levels of fibre, which is important for maintaining our digestive and gut health. Edible insects contain high levels of chitin, an insoluble fibre derived from the exoskeleton.
A trial published in the Scientific Reports followed 20 healthy men and women over a fortnight. Half consumed a standard breakfast, whilst the other half ate a breakfast of muffins and smoothies containing 25g of powdered cricket meal.
The participants who consumed the cricket-containing breakfast showed an increase in metabolic enzyme linked to good gut health and a reduction in inflammatory protein in the blood.
Well, we think it's right about time you start adding some cricket powder to your green smoothie!
Once consuming edible insects, you'll no longer have to break the bank spending a tonne of money on vitamin supplements.
Insects are packed full of trace elements such as copper, iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and folic acid.
Edible crickets contain nearly 5x the magnesium content of beef, and 3x as much iron. They also have high zinc levels, and pack in more calcium than milk!
So there we have it...
Hopefully, we've guided you to a place where you'll be better equipped to fulfil your personal health goals. It's important to look after yourself... Having a positive impact on the world around us really starts with feeling good about ourselves and ultimately, this starts from within. As the old saying goes, 'the greatest wealth is health', and we'd like to add to that - 'the greatest health is insects!'
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by Erin Banks