Findings from a small double-blind, randomized crossover trial suggest that eating crickets is safe even at high levels while supporting the development of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and colleagues sought to evaluate via clinical trial the health impact of eating insects, a dietary component for some 2 billion people worldwide. Insects including crickets contain chitin, a fiber that differs from other dietary fibers in fruits and vegetables. Some fiber types, probiotics, support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, and the trial sought to establish if insect fiber is among these. Co-corresponding author Tiffany Weir, PhD, professor of food science and human nutrition at Colorado State University, commented, “This study is important because insects represent a novel component in Western diets and their health effects in human populations haven't really been studied. We found that cricket consumption may actually offer benefits beyond nutrition.” The pilot clinical trial was reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study involved 20 men and women aged 18 to 48, who alternated 2-week time intervals of eating a control breakfast and one containing 25 grams of powdered cricket meal. Blood and stool samples, and subject questionnaires were used to assess the effect on gut microbial metabolism and on markers for inflammation. An increase in a metabolic enzyme associated with gut health, and a decrease in TNF-alpha, an inflammatory blood protein, were observed. The authors note that additional, larger studies are needed to pinpoint the components of crickets that contribute to the beneficial results.
Read about trial findings.
The journal article may be read here.
Posted on August 6, 2018