Is It Healthy?
Is It Healthy?
This chapter distinguishes what kinds of insects can be eaten as well as their nutritional value. There are about 6 million insect species on Earth, at least 1,200 of which are edible. However, not all insects can be safely eaten. Most edible insects belong to the four major groups: beetles; hymenoptera, such as ants, bees and wasps; caterpillars; and grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets. The main nutritional components of insects are proteins, fats, and fibers. Insects are a good source of essential amino acids, and insect protein content ranges from between 20 and 75 percent. Edible insects, such as caterpillars, palm beetles, and termites, are rich in polyunsaturated—otherwise known as the good—fatty acids. They are also rich in minerals, containing iron, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, and B12, vitamin A, and vitamin E. The most common form of fiber in insects is chitin. Chitin has been associated with defense against parasitic infection and some allergic conditions.
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