Blessed with a life in this world the human species has constantly been ruining its resources unscrupulously. Such carelessness and irresponsibility have led us to this present situation-a danger of putting ourselves and the Earth at a risk for destruction. Food, water and shelter are the basics of life and we have steadily been depleting all the natural resources-water scarcity is reaching dangerous heights and food insecurity has increased malnutrition rates never like before. This has pushed us to a grave situation where we are now forced to eat insects and bugs to maintain food sustainability. Eating out of desire and pleasure is different as you enjoy the entire meal whole-heartedly. But, being forced to eat something brings about irritation and dissatisfaction.
People of all kinds exist in this world-some are vegans who don’t even eat milk and eggs, some are vegetarians who don’t include eggs and animal-based products but do eat milk-based products and some others are non-vegetarians who eat animal- and plant-based products. Among animal-based products too, people distinguish between them preferring one over the other. Eating insects is not a new concept but an old practice that has been well into prevalence in Asian countries mostly. This is becoming popular once again as the world is trying to be healthier, calorie-conscious and suffering from shortage of nutritious foods. The West is slowly beginning to accept insects as a regular part of their meal keeping in mind their minimal carbon footprint compared to livestock. This has motivated almost 2 billion individuals to eat various insects in various forms but it still seems far less compared to the total world population. Maybe the rest needs a much stronger push motivating them to take up insect eating by enlightening them on its nutrient benefits, economic perks and widespread availability.
Overloaded with Antioxidant Benefits
Insects are touted to be an excellent source of protein (visit www.firsteatright.com for detailed research studies supporting nutrient benefits of eating insects), polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But what about their antioxidant capacity? A research team analyzed various insects for their antioxidant capacity using different measures. Once the inedible parts (wings and stings) were removed the insects were ground and two parts extracted for each species-fat and the rest containing water-soluble portions of the insect. Both the extracts were then tested for antioxidant capacity in comparison to two other foods, orange juice and olive oils-functional foods that are proclaimed to be rich sources of antioxidants.
Its been obvious until now that vegetarians have markedly higher antioxidant capacity. The analysis showed that fruits such as oranges have plenty of antioxidants and, water-soluble extracts of insects such as grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets displayed almost 5-fold higher rates than orange juice (OJ) but giant cicada, water bugs, black tarantula and black scorpions showed negligible values. The values represent that quantity procured from dry, fat-free insect dust that’s much tougher to swallow than fresh orange juice. So, when they were diluted (88% water) grasshoppers and silkworms had about 75% antioxidant activity of OJ.
Though polyphenols (micronutrients obtained from plant-based foods packed with antioxidants) too showed similar trends among insect species their presence was much lower in all insects compared to OJ. Insect fat too showed promising results: fat from giant cicadas and silkworm showed twice the antioxidant activity of olive oil and black tarantula, palm worm and black ants ranked down in the list. But the main question now is whether the antioxidants will be effective on humans. Studies on their efficiency in humans will do great good for the human population. There might come a time when insect rearing studies come up with powerful means to increase their antioxidant content for animal or human consumption.
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