What if we told you that the best way to get more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids wasn’t to eat more fish, but to add insect oil to your diet? A team of researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that the oil extracted from insects was rich in these essential fatty acids and comparable to that found in fish. Americans seem to be getting over the ick factor, with insects making their way into protein powders and bars.
Researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa thinks it’s a shame to throw away the nutrient-rich oil, a by-product of the protein-extraction process. Her team examined insects such as mealworms, cockroaches and crickets, discovering a bouquet of oil aroma compounds that included buttery, grassy and sour vinegar notes. She hopes to see the oil used in salad dressings or as a healthier choice for frying foods.
Bugged out about the prospect of eating bugs? The researchers are working with entomologists and other experts to determine which insects are best for humans. As the world population soars to a projected 9.7 billion by 2050, land will be more scarce and oceans more rapidly depleted. Insects, which are also rich in vitamins and minerals, may be one of the most sustainable ways of meeting the future’s nutrition challenges.