One of the most overlooked sources of nutrition is insects. I am sure everyone has seen the carts selling little critters somewhere in Asia. In fact, the National Autonomous University of Mexico found that 113 countries across the world eat insects as a substitute for meat with a variety of 1,700 different species of insects consumed.
If you think this is disgusting, consider that insects were a large part of a Paleolithic diet. A paper called Calcium in Evolutionary Perspective by S Boyd Eaton and Dorothy A Nelson states that for “a total of 150 million years – three quarters of the entire time mammals have existed – our ancestors were primarily insectivorous”.
Hunting animals was dangerous, which means meat was scarce or at least not caught on a regular basis. Insects were much more bountiful and safer to harvest. Early hunters and gatherers had about a 20 percent success rate when hunting game. Therefore, their tribe would have starved if it weren’t for a steady stream of nutrients and calories consumed from foraging foods such as tubers, greens or fruits. Moreover, the demand for protein required a constant intake of insects.
Insects are highly nutritious. When we compare the nutritional value of insects to beef, and even fish, it is clear that insects come out on top. For example, caterpillars contain higher levels of iron and vitamins than ground beef and is on par with protein content. Likewise, crickets have higher levels of calcium, which is an essential nutrient for bone development.
Insects are also a much higher quality food compared to fruits, leaves, flowers and even nuts. Insects, in fact, provide all the nutrients that drive human development: protein, iron, calcium and, best of all, unsaturated long-chain essential fatty acids.
Furthermore, National Geographic suggests that besides nutritional value, insects are also environmentally sustainable, requiring very little water, feed and transport fuel to be farmed and harvested when compared to livestock and vegetables. For example, 10 pounds of beef requires 100 pounds of feed, where the same amount of feed would produce four times the amount of crickets.
Vietnam has an abundance of insects available for consumption. I have eaten ants, tarantulas, crickets, scorpions and coconut grubs, all of which were very tasty. Coconut grubs were particularly delicious and packed full of goodness from their home: the superfood, coconut.
If eating creepy-crawlies never occurred to you, then try them. You’ll be eating healthy and saving the environment.
Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (Starfitnesssaigon.com), online or at your home. Contact him though his website Phil-kelly.com or Facebook.com/BodyExpertSystemVietnam.