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Is consumption of insects linked to reduced weight gain in individuals with obesity?

Is consumption of insects linked to reduced weight gain in individuals with obesity? alternative proteins, Diet and health, fish and savoury ingredients, food waste, Insects, meat, Obesity, Proteins, Science, Sustainability, Weight management Food and Beverage Business

In the ever-evolving food and beverage industry, new trends and innovations continue to shape the way we produce, distribute, and consume our food. One emerging trend that has caught the attention of experts is the potential of insects as a sustainable and nutritious protein source.

Recently, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave positive assessments for certain insect species, deeming them safe for consumption. Insect varieties such as lesser mealworm larvae and house crickets have now been recognized as viable food options.

From a sustainability perspective, insects have clear advantages over conventional animal protein. They have a more efficient feed-protein conversion rate, can thrive on agricultural by-products, and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia. In addition, insect production requires significantly less land and water compared to traditional livestock.

But the benefits of insects extend beyond sustainability. Insects like crickets are packed with nutrients, including nearly three times the amount of protein found in beef. They also provide fats, vitamin B, zinc, iron, and fiber.

Researchers are now investigating the potential impacts of insect consumption in mice. Preliminary findings are promising, suggesting that consuming insects could help manage weight and improve blood lipid profiles. However, lead study author Kelly Swanson emphasizes the need for further studies to confirm these results in humans.

The study, sponsored by insect-based food and feed company Ÿnsect, involved feeding one group of mice a high-fat diet for 12 weeks, followed by an insect-based alternative protein diet. The control group consumed a lean diet throughout the experiment. During the study, researchers measured various parameters such as body weight, body composition, blood metabolites, and gene expression in the liver and adipose tissue.

The results indicate that replacing traditional protein sources with mealworms in high-fat diets could slow weight gain, improve immune response, reduce inflammation, enhance energy metabolism, and positively alter lipid profiles. It’s important to note that the mealworm protein didn’t cause the mice to lose weight, but rather slowed down the rate of weight gain compared to the control group.

One possible explanation for these benefits is the fiber-like properties of chitin, the material that makes up the exoskeleton of insects. Chitin seems to promote beneficial microbial activity in the gut. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects.

While the findings in mice are promising, the question remains: can insect protein have the same impact on obese humans? From a regulatory perspective, yellow mealworms have already been recognized as a safe ingredient by the EFSA. Nevertheless, human studies are necessary to confirm these results and determine the optimal amount of insect protein for providing health benefits.

Consumer perceptions of eating insects continue to evolve. Traditionally, insects have been considered taboo in many Western societies, leading to a perceived “yuck factor.” However, with increasing protein shortages and a growing body of research highlighting the nutritional benefits of insects, attitudes are changing. Ground insect protein can be easily incorporated into various food products, reducing any potential negative impact on taste or texture.

As the food and beverage industry continues to explore innovative solutions to meet the challenges of sustainability and nutrition, insects are emerging as a viable option. While there may still be barriers to overcome, such as consumer acceptance and cultural attitudes, the potential benefits warrant further exploration and research in this area.

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