High in protein, low in fat, cheap and eco-friendly – ​​but would you try this “miracle” food?

High in protein, low in fat, cheap and eco-friendly – ​​but would you try this “miracle” food?

The ‘disgust factor’ must be overcome if insect-based foods are to become mainstream, study suggests.

Insects can be rich in protein and making them more palatable could help reduce high greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming.

Reducing obesity also has potential benefits, and researchers say the idea of ​​insect farming is gaining more attention.

It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America already consume insects to some extent.

It is hoped that Western attitudes will change over time, perhaps in the same way that foods such as sushi have become mainstream.

“Insects are a potentially rich source of protein and micronutrients and could help provide a solution to the double burden of obesity and undernutrition,” said study leader Dr Lauren McGale from the University Edge Hill in Lancashire.

“Some insect proteins, like freeze-dried ground crickets or mealworms, are cheaper and easier to grow, often lower in fat, and have a lower environmental impact than traditional livestock.”

However, most people are still very reluctant due to prejudices about taste and appearance.

But the study also found that they were much more likely to give insects a chance if they were ground into powder.

Fried insects at a market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: iStock

“This has been done successfully with rice products enriched with cricket or locust flours in other parts of the world,” said co-author Dr Maxine Sharps of De Montfort University.

Only 13% of the 603 people surveyed in the UK study said they would be willing to eat insect food regularly.

Some 47% said they would not eat it regularly and 40% were not sure.

More than 82% of people expected insect food to be crunchy, 64.6% salty and 62.4% bitter.

Only 24% said they expected to like the flavor, and only 14.1% thought the insect food would look appetizing.

Younger people also seemed more hesitant – and each year, being younger was associated with a 2% increase in saying “no” to the idea.

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“The disgust factor is one of the biggest challenges to overcome,” Dr. Sharps said.

“After all, there may ultimately be no choice given climate change and projected population growth globally.”

The results of the study are being presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Venice.


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