Sometimes, to keep ourselves healthy means to push our limits, keep on looking for possibilities, alternatives that can replace the old, established conventions. Experiences and a handful or researches has taught us that alternatives are indeed everywhere, possibilities are limitless. But sometimes, some findings and discoveries are deemed going too far. Take for instance, protein in insects. The first time we read about those findings, we might think that yes, insects do contain protein (approximately 12.9g for 100g of crickets and 20.6 for grasshoppers), and yes, some of them are edible.
But the most pressing question would be, do we really need to eat crickets for proteins? We mean, insects? seriously? The answer would be, yes, and no. Yes, because compared to some other protein sources, crickets have way lot to offer for each grams. Not only proteins, they also contain fiber, vitamins and carbohydrates. No, because, well, we don’t have to eat crickets if we don’t want to. Besides, they’re still hard to come by in some countries and the means to mass produce and breed them as livestock (just like poultry and cattle) aren’t currently viable.
Still, it’s still important to keep our minds open and also to keep ourselves from jumping into conclusions. In the near future, it might be viable enough to produce some nutritional supplements based on crickets. As a matter of fact, there are some food manufacturers already on their way producing and marketing “cricket flours”, which are basically crickets in powdered form. That approach is certainly welcome, because while people might be tempted to give crickets a try, the factors are still there.
Anyway, the need for alternative protein sources have been arising for awhile now. Ready or not, years later we might find ourselves nibbling some crunchy abdomens, or drinking some cricket powders. With that in mind, we might as well discuss what does it mean to incorporate insects to our diets (or entomology, if you prefer a cooler term), along with the actual health benefits that come with them, because if we were to eat insects as main dishes, they best have really good nutrients to back them up, don’t they?
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What Nutrients in Crickets?
So, here comes the most anticipated part, and rightfully so, because despite their small physiques, crickets do pack some high nutrition, as well as beautiful ringing noises. When we talk about crickets, it is no wonder that most of the discussions came from fitness communities. Protein is the word, and we can’t help but to be amazed by the amount of proteins these critters have. Not only that, crickets also contain more lipid (animal fats) than some other, larger animals, as well as some carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
To get a much clearer picture, we can compare nutritional contents of 100gr serving of crickets to steak with similar sized serving. Crickets have 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of fat and 5.1 grams of carbohydrates, while sirloin steak have 30.55 grams of protein, 5.79 of fat, and no carbohydrates. So what can we conclude from the comparison? Here are also some facts that may also interest you about health benefits of eating crickets.
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1. Provide Nutrition for Less Cost
We have discussed about it in the introduction, but we’d like to go more into details. Unlike cattle and chickens, breeding crickets takes less costs. By costs we mean less expenses both for feeding and breeding, less time to harvests (about seven weeks from egg to adult, compared to cattle which needs two to three years to reach minimal slaughter weight), and also less space to take up. What’s really cool, however, is that when we consume crickets, we consume everything, the whole crickets, skin, bone and flesh. The bones and organs contain calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and zinc, which we don’t normally get from non-insects meat because we don’t normally eat cows’ bones and organs do we?
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2. Environmentally Responsible
So what if you were told that the steaks you eat at a local steakhouse caused the earth to heat up increasingly each years? Yes, it’s the truth, an inconvenient one at it. One of the dealbreakers with cattle is that they generate so much greenhouse gases which lead to global warming that became more evident each year. If we were to survive towards the future, we should really reconsider how we source our proteins. Insects, crickets being an example of the vast possible alternatives, seem to be the most likely answer as they require much less spaces, need less water (a pound of beef is said to require thousands of gallons of water) and generate a whole lot less wastes.
3. Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
So we have already heard about how crickets are on their way replacing beefs. But to call it “replacing” might be an understatement. Crickets might improve our diets greatly it’s not even funny, they might change the diet game for good. Part of the reasons why is that crickets are said to contain five times as much magnesium as beef. Incidentally, magnesium plays important part in maintaining cardiovascular health. A study even suggested that increased magnesium intake may lower the risk of hear disease up to 22 percent. Thus, with your heart health in mind, try not to lose heart at the thought of eating crickets starting now.
4. Great Alternative Diet for Diabetics
From the earlier paragraphs, it is said that crickets contain more carbs than cows (which have none). Those who are on diet would probably flinch at the thoughts on carbs (on insects too, no less). Even so, with the magnesium contents as described on above paragraphs, even diabetics can still consume crickets at moderate amounts to get all the health benefits available. Because according to another research, the more magnesium means the less type 2 diabetes to have, about a third reduction from the normal amount. The presence of protein in high amount also help in burning fat and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
5. Promote Muscle Building
We learned that crickets are actually rich in protein, but not only that, they also contain the so called “branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)” that’s necessary for muscle development. BCAA are also commonly found in protein powders as well as fitness supplements. But now it wouldn’t be much surprise to see crickets slowly replaces your usual protein powder.
Besides many macronutrients described above, crickets still pack more surprises than we can imagine. Who would ever thought that in such small bodies they contain high amount of iron and zinc, two substances that play important part in muscle building. Iron is said to provide energy, boost muscle and brain function. While zinc is widely known as “natural aphrodisiac” due to its effect in testosterone increases. Incidentally, testosterone is a hormone that affects how muscle are built, more testosterone means more muscle mass.
6. Good for Pregnant Women
Next time we hear about our friends or relatives getting pregnant, might be a good start to start recommending eating crickets to them. Although might not be greeted positively (could be worse), at least we can be sure that it’s a solid recommendation. Because iron, which is quite abundant in crickets (even more than the amount contained in spinach), helps with supplying hemoglobin in red blood cells. Iron also boost generation of red blood cells, the utmost necessities for pregnant women or those in their periods.
7. Promote Bone Health
What makes crickets more interesting than beefs is the fact that we can also get the nutritions not only from the flesh, but from the whole bodies. The hard parts of crickets’ bodies contain calcium, which not only makes bones strong, but also reduce blood pressure, and might even decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
8. Help with Weight Loss
We learned so far that crickets contain so many nutrients that are so useful for those who are on diet. But not only that, because of the abundance of protein in crickets, consuming them also can help with weight loss. It is generally advised to eat 0.75 grams of protein for one pound of body weight. Because of the presence of carbohydrates, consuming crickets will make you feel more full than ordinary meals, thus reducing craving for snacks.
9. Provide High Dose of Vitamin B12
Even in our balanced diets, there is still one micronutrient which we most likely still didn’t get enough of. Its name was vitamin B12, who plays vital role in maintain energy levels, prevent memory loss, maintaining nerve function, heart, skin and hair health. Fortunately, crickets can provide about 17 percent of daily suggested value for just one serving. All the more reason to switch now, don’t you agree?
10. Good Fats
Crickets are well-rounded in terms of macro-nutrients. The presence of carbohydrates indicates that we can use crickets not only as side dish, but also main dish. That also means reduced costs for preparing main dish to get our daily carbs needs, which is pretty neat when we think about it. Second, crickets do contain fats, but not the one we should worry about. While the amount of fat contained in crickets and steaks are about equal, some of the fat contained in crickets are unsaturated fats, or “good fats” if you may.
Alright, so that’s all about what we need to know about crickets, health benefits of eating crickets. By now we should have clear pictures as to what to expect from starting eating insects. The future draws near, it’s only a matter of time until entomophagy became the norm. It is up to us to start now, perhaps starting from reducing the icky feelings. Anyway, thanks for reading, keep an open mind, and stay healthy.
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