You may not think that crickets sound like a tasty snack, but a new study suggests they could be a healthy one. In many parts of the world, however, people are delighted when insects are on the menu. In southern Mexico, chapulines are considered a delicacy. Edible insects are also prized in certain regions of China (Insect Science, April 2018). Some experts foresee insect consumption as an efficient way to provide high-quality protein (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Aug. 2016).
Can Eating Crickets Benefit Your Bacterial Balance?
One of the great benefits of fiber is that it encourages a wide variety of intestinal microbes. The fiber in vegetables is somewhat different from the fiber in insects. Insect-derived fiber is known as chitin. However, a new study of 20 healthy adults reveals that the fiber in crickets can improve the balance of microbes in the intestines (Scientific Reports, July 17, 2018).
In this placebo-controlled crossover trial, half the people had a breakfast muffin or shake containing 25 grams of powdered crickets for two weeks. The other half had cricket-free breakfasts of either a shake or a muffin. After a two-week washout period, the groups switched.
During the cricket consumption period, levels of a beneficial microbe called Bifidobacterium animalis soared more than five-fold. People eating breakfasts rich in insect fiber also had lower blood levels of an inflammatory protein called TNF-alpha.
You can hear about the benefits of fiber from leaves and stems in our interview with Dr. Robynne Chutkan. It is Show 1115: How You Can Conquer Constipation.