Everything You Need To Know About Edible Insect Nutrition In 2019
Studies show that edible insects may reduce inflammation, improve your gut health and help develop your brain.
The nutritional value of edible insects varies greatly and edible insects are rich in nutrients promoting human health.
In this blogpost you will learn
- About the nutritional value of edible insects
- How some edible insects are even healthier than beef and chicken.
- The edible insects that provides the nutrients most beneficial to you.
- Why edible insects can develop your brain, reduce inflammation and improve your gut health.
- And why the nutritional value of edible insects varies so much.
I am super excited to share this with you – let’s get started.
Similarly, the nutritional value changes depending on the preparation and processing before consumption (drying, cooking, frying etc.) 
The nutritional value of insects is comparable to conventional meats and in some cases even healthier than beef or chicken. 
The nutritional value of edible insects varies and edible insects are rich in nutrients promoting human health.
What type of nutrients do edible insects contain?
Many edible insects are high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), where total PUFA content may be up to 70% of total fatty acids.
Edible insect fiber contents range from 5.1% for termites to 13.6% for true bugs (Hemiptera).
Chitin has many health benefits including increasing immune defense, as well as combating inflammation and cancer. 
Edible insects are also rich in vital micronutrients including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc, as well as vitamins including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin and, in some cases, folic acid. [1,8]
How many crickets do I need to eat to meet my daily calorie requirements?
To meet your daily calorie need of 2500 kcal, you could eat 500 grams of dried crickets. By doing that you would also get a whopping 305 g of protein, 70 g of fat and 50 g of fiber = LEAN GAINS BABY 😉 
Edible insects are rich in micro- and macronutrients essential to human health and may benefit you by making you smarter, increasing immune defense, as well as combating inflammation and cancer.
That is great!
If you’d like to know more about the different nutrients in edible insects and how they benefit can benefit you, read on.
Why edible insects are a good source of proteins
Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Our bodies consist of protein from our bones to our muscles, organs, arteries and veins, skin, hair, and fingernails.
Protein is an important nutrient and while most of us eat enough to prevent deficiency, some people could benefit from a much higher protein intake. Benefits like improved weight loss and increased strength & muscle mass. [24,25,26]
However, the way we are getting protein from animal sources today is unsustainable.
This is where edible, protein rich insects come into the picture!
To produce 1 kg of edible insect protein you need 4 times less water, 5 times less feed, 13 times less land, and emit 100 times less CO2 than producing 1 kg of edible beef protein.
This means you can get your proteins, increase your health and ‘save the planet’ by getting more of your protein from insects.
Now you might be asking,
“Which edible insects should I eat to increase my protein intake?”
And that is a great question!
Protein content might be even higher than measured since some protein might be bound in the exoskeleton
Here are 4 things you can do to make sure that the edible insects you are eating are high in protein:
- Chose a specie high in protein; like crickets, grasshoppers and locusts [2,8]
- Chose adult edible insects; Adult edible insects usually have higher protein content than when they are in egg, larvae or pupae form. 
- Chose farmed insects with documented nutritional composition.
- Chose dry-roasted or freeze dried edible insects over fresh insects.
That is great, but how easy is it to digest insects protein compared to other plant and animal based protein sources?
One way to increase the protein digestibility of edible insects is by removing chitin, the fiber that makes up the exoskeleton. 
Proteins are important building blocks of our body. Increasing your protein intake might aid weight loss and increase strength and muscle mass. Edible insects are a high quality protein source and can be a great addition to your diet. Edible insect can provide you with high amounts of easy digestible and environmental friendly proteins.
Amino acids in edible insects
Amino acids are the smaller building blocks required to create all the larger protein building blocks of the body.
There are 20 different amino acids, where eight are essential, meaning the body cannot make them and must get them through food.
The eight essential amino acids are: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine and lysine. 
Edible insects are a great source of essential amino acids.
Fat in edible insects
Fat is an essential nutrient to the body.
The fats you eat give your body energy, keep your body warm, your skin and hair healthy, help you absorb vitamins from food and produce hormones.
Dietary fats can be either healthy or harmful. The key is to get a good balance of fats in your diet. Eat the healthiest kinds of fats, in the right amounts.
Normally, we divide fatty acids into monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated and trans fats.
The difference between these fatty acids lies in their chemical structure and how they affect the body.
Unsaturated fatty acids are in general the healthy fatty acids. You get them through plants and fatty fish.
Saturated fatty acids, and trans fats, in too high amounts are generally not good for you. You find them in almost all animal sources as well as in fried and baked foods.
Edible insects are one of the few animal sources that contains higher unsaturated fatty acids than saturated fatty acids. 
This means you can increase your healthy fat intake, while keeping your protein intake high by switching from beef to crickets. 
Looking at the total fat content of edible insects. Fatty acids ranges from 10-44% of saturated fatty acids, 2-49% of monounsaturated acids, and 19-74% of polyunsaturated fatty acids. 
Edible insects with the highest fat contents are larvae, worms and caterpillars. Whereas the edible insects with the lowest fat contents are grasshoppers and locusts. 
It appears the fat content of the edible insects depends on the plants on which they feed. 
Fat is an essential nutrient to the body helping with a variety of important functions. By eating edible insects you can increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet, while reducing unhealthy and harmful fats.
Essential fatty acids in edible insects may make you smarter!
Your body can make most of the fatty acids it needs from other fats. Yet, there are two essential types of polyunsaturated fatty acids that you need to get from food. They are linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid).
We call them "essential" because your body cannot make them itself, or work without them. Your body needs them for brain development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting.
Scientist even suggest that edible insects providing essential fatty acids, especially omega-3, played an important role in human evolution and brain development. 
Of all PUFA, Edible insects can have up to 76% omega-6 fatty acids and up to 24% omega-3 fatty acids. 
Edible insects are a great source of essential fatty acids. Their essential fatty acids may make you smarter, decrease inflammation and ensure your blood is clotting.
Carbohydrates and fiber in edible insects
Carbohydrates in edible insects come primary through fiber.
Chitin is the most common form of fiber in the body of insects found primary in their exoskeleton. 
To humans chitin is an indigestible fiber, meaning the body is unable to digest it. Thus, it acts as food (prebiotic) for the healthy bacteria in our gut.
Chitin has even helped some individuals to be more resistant against pathogenic bacteria and viruses. There are also indications that chitin could reduce allergic reactions to certain individuals [11,14,31].
Chitin act like cellulose in the human body and due to this effect it is often called “animal fiber”. 
Scientist analyzed the amount of fiber in 7 different species of edible insects. The African migratory locust had the highest content, while the Jamaican field cricket contained the least fiber
Edible insects are high in insoluble fibers in the form of chitin. Eating edible insects high in fiber can boost your immune system, increase your gut health, reduce inflammation, and even help reduce allergic reactions.
Micronutrients in edible insects
Micronutrients (including minerals and vitamins) play an important role in the nutritional value of food.
Micronutrient deficiencies can have major adverse health consequences. Including damaged growth, immune function, mental and physical development and reproductive outcomes.
The most scary part is, that it is not always possible to reverse with nutritional interventions 
Luckily, edible insects are rich in micronutrients that can correct and prevent deficiencies
Yet, it does not make sense to make general statements of the micronutrient content in different types of edible insects.
The variation in the nutritional value of the edible insects change depending on their development stages and diets. 
Even so, edible insects provide significant amounts of minerals and vitamins. 
Micronutrients play an important role in the nutritional value of food. The micronutrient content for edible insects depends on their diets and developmental stage. Even, so edible insects provide significant amounts of micronutrients.
Energy value in edible insects
Edible insects can be a great source of food energy to support the functions of your body and maintain energy balance.
Food energy comes from the macronutrients carbohydrate, protein and fat.
We measure the amount of energy in each macronutrient with kilocalories (kcal) or kilojoule (kJ). Carbohydrate and protein each contain 4 kcal per 1 gram, where 1 g of fat contains 9 kcal.
The energy value of edible insects depends on their composition, primary on the fat content.
Larvae or pupae are usually richer in fat and thus in energy compared to adult edible insects. 
High protein insect species, like grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets, have lower energy content around 426 kcal/100 g of dry matter. Where caterpillars and larvae can contain up to 777 kcal/100 g of dry matter. [8,23]
T shows the energy value of selected species of edible insects, expressed in kcal per 100 g fresh weight. 
Edible insects can be a great source of food energy to support your body’s functions. The energy content of edible insects varies and depends on their composition, feed and developmental stage.
But why does the nutritional value vary so much for edible insects?
Here's why the nutrition value varies so much for edible insects
A few separate studies analyzed the nutritional value of edible insects. But, the data are not always comparable. This is due to the variation between species, their diet, their environment and due to the different methods used to analyze the nutritional content. 
Finally, how we prepare and process (e.g. drying, boiling or frying) the insects will also influence the nutrition value.
For example, a fried grasshopper will be fattier and have fewer nutrients than a freeze-dried grasshopper.
Several factors can affect the nutritional value of edible insects. Factors including the type of species, development stage, diet, environment, processing, and the method used to analyze the nutritional content.
Alright, that makes sense. How can I then know the nutritional value of the edible insects I am eating?
That is a good question! Since the nutritional value depends on so many factors. The only way to be sure of the nutritional value, is to analyze the edible insects yourself or to choose a trusted commercial farmer.
Edible insects are rich in micro- and macronutrients essential to human health.
If you are struggling with a poor memory, a lot of sick days or cancer. Then introducing some edible insects into your diet might benefit you.
So next time you're planning to cook beef or chicken. You could replace that steak with some edible insects and get higher amounts of lean proteins, essential fatty acids and even fibers.
If you are looking to increase protein intake to lose weight or gain muscle and strength.
Then the best edible insects for you are crickets, grasshoppers and locusts.
Are you however looking for more healthy fats in your diet, choose insects like larvae, caterpillars, worms and pupae.
The nutritional value of edible insects depends on the species, development stage, diet, environment, preparation, processing and the method used to analyze the nutritional content.
Finally, if you want to know the exact nutrient content. Then you should buy farmed insects from a supplier with documented nutritional analysis.
If I left one of your questions unanswered, head down to the comment section and I’ll make sure to give you a heads up. 😉
Cricket Protein: the New Food Frontier Is Here Already
Discover why cricket protein is becoming a HUGE trend within the food industry and how you can benefit from it.
What is Entomophagy? And How Edible Insects May Have Affected Our Brain Development
Edible insects in a nutshell
1. Akhtar Y, Isman MB. Insects as an Alternative Protein Source. In: Proteins in Food Processing [Internet]. 2018. p. 263–88. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-08-100722-8.00011-5
2. van Huis A, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security [Internet]. Food & Agriculture Org; 2013. 187 p. Available from: https://books.google.com/books/about/Edible_Insects.html?hl=&id=BLYgnQEACAAJ
3. Akullo, J., Agea, J.G., Obaa, B. B., Okwee-Acai, J. and Nakimbugwe, D. Nutrient composition of commonly consumed edible insects in the Lango sub-region of northern Uganda. International Food Research [Internet]. 2018 Feb [cited 2018 Nov 22];25(1):159–65. Available from: http://www.ifrj.upm.edu.my/25%20(01)%202018/(20).pdf
4. Defoliart GR. Edible insects as minilivestock. Biodiversity & Conservation [Internet]. 1995 Apr 1;4(3):306–21. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00055976
5. Verkerk MC, Tramper J, van Trijp JCM, Martens DE. Insect cells for human food. Biotechnol Adv [Internet]. 2007 Mar;25(2):198–202. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2006.11.004
6. Srivastava SK, Babu N, Pandey H. Traditional insect bioprospecting--As human food and medicine. 2009; Available from: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/6263
7. Raksakantong P, Meeso N, Kubola J, Siriamornpun S. Fatty acids and proximate composition of eight Thai edible terricolous insects. Food Res Int [Internet]. 2010 Jan 1;43(1):350–5. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996909003317
8. Kouřimská L, Adámková A. Nutritional and sensory quality of edible insects. NFS Journal [Internet]. 2016;4:22–6. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nfs.2016.07.001
9. van Huis A. Edible insects are the future? Proc Nutr Soc [Internet]. 2016 Aug;75(3):294–305. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0029665116000069
10. Fontaneto D, Tommaseo-Ponzetta M, Galli C, Risé P, Glew RH, Paoletti MG. Differences in fatty acid composition between aquatic and terrestrial insects used as food in human nutrition. Ecol Food Nutr [Internet]. 2011 Jul;50(4):351–67. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03670244.2011.586316
11. Stull VJ, Finer E, Bergmans RS, Febvre HP, Longhurst C, Manter DK, et al. Impact of Edible Cricket Consumption on Gut Microbiota in Healthy Adults, a Double-blind, Randomized Crossover Trial. Sci Rep [Internet]. 2018 Jul 17;8(1):10762. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29032-2
12. Rumpold BA, Schlüter OK. Nutritional composition and safety aspects of edible insects. Mol Nutr Food Res [Internet]. 2013 May;57(5):802–23. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201200735
13. Mori TA, Beilin LJ, Burke V, Morris J, Ritchie J. Interactions between dietary fat, fish, and fish oils and their effects on platelet function in men at risk of cardiovascular disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol [Internet]. 1997 Feb;17(2):279–86. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9081682
14. Bednářová M, Borkovcová M, Mlček J, Rop O, Zeman L. Edible insects - species suitable for entomophagy under condition of Czech Republic. Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis [Internet]. 2013;61(3):587–93. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.11118/actaun201361030587
15. Womeni HM, Linder M, Tiencheu B, Mbiapo FT, Villeneuve P, Fanni J, et al. Oils of insects and larvae consumed in Africa: potential sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Ol Corps Gras Lipides [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2018 Nov 22];16(4-5-6):230–5. Available from: https://www.ocl-journal.org/articles/ocl/abs/2009/04/ocl2009164p230/ocl2009164p230.html
16. Ratnayake WMN, Galli C. Fat and fatty acid terminology, methods of analysis and fat digestion and metabolism: a background review paper. Ann Nutr Metab [Internet]. 2009 Sep 15;55(1-3):8–43. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000228994
17. Crawford MA, Bloom M, Broadhurst CL, Schmidt WF, Cunnane SC, Galli C, et al. Evidence for the unique function of DHA during the evolution of the modern hominid brain. Ol Corps Gras Lipides [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2018 Nov 22];11(1):30–7. Available from: https://www.ocl-journal.org/articles/ocl/abs/2004/01/ocl2004111p30/ocl2004111p30.html
18. Carlson BA, Kingston JD. Docosahexaenoic acid, the aquatic diet, and hominin encephalization: difficulties in establishing evolutionary links. Am J Hum Biol [Internet]. 2007 Jan;19(1):132–41. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.20579
19. Carlson BA, Kingston JD. Docosahexaenoic acid biosynthesis and dietary contingency: Encephalization without aquatic constraint. Am J Hum Biol [Internet]. 2007 Jul;19(4):585–8. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.20683
20. Snodgrass JJ, Leonard WR, Robertson ML. The Energetics of Encephalization in Early Hominids. In: Hublin J-J, Richards MP, editors. The Evolution of Hominin Diets: Integrating Approaches to the Study of Palaeolithic Subsistence [Internet]. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2009. p. 15–29. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9699-0_2
21. Akullo J, Agea JG, Obaa BB. Nutrient composition of commonly consumed edible insects in the Lango sub-region of northern Uganda. International Food [Internet]. 2018; Available from: http://search.proquest.com/openview/4b4a0f60e42e1b7d5dc422d73318019e/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=816390
22. Park BK, Kim M-M. Applications of chitin and its derivatives in biological medicine. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2010 Dec 15;11(12):5152–64. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms11125152
23. Ramos-Elorduy J, Moreno JMP, Prado EE, Perez MA, Otero JL, de Guevara OL. Nutritional Value of Edible Insects from the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. J Food Compost Anal [Internet]. 1997 Jun 1;10(2):142–57. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157597905305
24. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr [Internet]. 2004 Oct;23(5):373–85. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943
25. Bosse JD, Dixon BM. Dietary protein to maximize resistance training: a review and examination of protein spread and change theories. J Int Soc Sports Nutr [Internet]. 2012 Sep 8;9(1):42. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-42
26. Pasiakos SM, McLellan TM, Lieberman HR. The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review. Sports Med [Internet]. 2015 Jan;45(1):111–31. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2
27. Finke MD. Nutrient Content of Insects. In: Capinera JL, editor. Encyclopedia of Entomology [Internet]. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2008. p. 2623–46. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_2274
28. Micronutris : Les insectes comestibles de qualité biologique [Internet]. Micronutris. [cited 2018 Nov 22]. Available from: https://www.micronutris.com/fr/accueil
29. Xiaoming C, Ying F, Hong Z, Zhiyong C. Review of the nutritive value of edible insects. Forest insects as food: humans bite back [Internet]. 2010;85. Available from: http://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Elevages/Insectes/edible%20forest%20insects.pdf#page=94
30. Ademolu KO, Idowu AB, Olatunde GO. Nutritional Value Assessment of Variegated Grasshopper, Zonocerus variegatus (L.) (Acridoidea: Pygomorphidae), During Post-Embryonic Development. Afr Entomol [Internet]. 2010 Sep 1;18(2):360–4. Available from: https://doi.org/10.4001/003.018.0201
31. Finke MD. Estimate of chitin in raw whole insects. Zoo Biol [Internet]. 2007 Mar;26(2):105–15. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/zoo.20123
32. World Health Organization. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition [Internet]. World Health Organization; 2007. 265 p. Available from: https://books.google.com/books/about/Protein_and_Amino_Acid_Requirements_in_H.html?hl=&id=jH0VtgEACAAJ
33. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS. THE STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE - WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE Closing the gender gap for development [Internet]. 2011. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i2050e.pdf
34. Adámková A, Mlček J, Kouřimská L, Borkovcová M, Bušina T, Adámek M, et al. Nutritional Potential of Selected Insect Species Reared on the Island of Sumatra. Int J Environ Res Public Health [Internet]. 2017 May 12;14(5). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14050521