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The insect snack that could help improve your gut health

Healthy insect snacks

In the last part of our series on insects for food, we look at insects as an alternative healthy snack.

24 December 2019

Muriel Cozier

For many people snacks are an integral part of their daily diet. The move towards healthier lifestyles has led to an increasing array of snacks which claim to have nutritional benefits, be that good protein content, vitamins and minerals or low sugar.

According to data from Grand View Research, a US-based market research company, the global healthy snacks market is expected to reach $32.88 billion by 2025. Grand View Research finds that companies in Europe are focusing on increasing sales of healthy snacks by attracting more customers with ‘innovative and eye-catching products.’

Tapping into this desire for healthy and innovative products, snacks based on insects are now available in several supermarkets. During 2018 UK-based supermarket Sainsbury’s announced that it would become the first large UK grocer to stock edible insect snacks, which are produced and supplied by Eat Grub.

Based in London, UK, Eat Grub was established during 2013. The founders Neil Whippy and Shami Radia, say that their passion is to ‘encourage people to embrace insects as a sustainable nutritious and above all tasty source of food.’ Eat Grub’s insect snack is produced from house crickets, which are farmed in Europe.

Apart from being a good source of protein, the team highlights research which indicates that insects are good for gut health due to their high chitin content. Whippy points to work carried out by Dr Valerie Stull at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, which links consumption of chitinous fibre to increased levels of a metabolic enzyme associated with gut health.

Stull’s team, which conducted a clinical trial looking into the health effects of consuming crickets, also noted a decrease in an inflammatory protein in the blood called TNF-alpha. This protein is believed to be implicated in a range of conditions including depression and Alzheimer disease. Stull’s team concluded that more and larger studies were needed to replicate their findings and determine what components of crickets may contribute to improved gut health. Dr Stull is part of the so called MIGHTi Project, which evaluates ways to optimise the use of edible insects for human nutrition, smart economic development, recycling and agroecosystems.

As well as cricket snacks, Eat Grub also has insect-based energy bars and ingredients that can be added to smoothies, soups or salads.

If you happen to be looking for an insect-based snack to enjoy over the Christmas period, Eat Grub points out that their cricket snacks can be found by the beers. Who knows, you might find a bottle of insect beer to go with your cricket snack.

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