While many people are understandably squeamish about the idea of eating insects, the health benefits might make it worthwhile.
According to a new clinical trial from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, consuming crickets can have a positive impact on your gut health and reduce inflammation in the body.
“There is a lot of interest right now in edible insects,” Valerie Stull, a recent doctoral graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and lead author of the study said in a press release.
“It’s gaining traction in Europe and in the U.S. as a sustainable, environmentally friendly protein source compared to traditional livestock.”
The study, published in the Scientific Reports Journal, examined 20 healthy adults, aged 18 to 48, over a six-week period in order to assess the effects of eating cricket powder.
For the first two weeks of the study, 10 participants ate a control breakfast while the other 10 ate one containing 25 grams of powdered crickets in muffins and shakes.
For the following two weeks, all participants ate normally. During the final two weeks of the study, the participants switched, with those who began with a control breakfast eating cricket powder and those who’d eaten cricket powder eating a control breakfast.
During the trial period, researchers collected blood samples and stool samples from participants, as well as answers to a gastrointestinal questionnaire before the study, after the first two-week diet period and immediately after the second two-week diet period.
What researchers discovered after analyzing the results is that, although participants reported no significant gastrointestinal changes, there was an increase in a metabolic enzyme associated with gut health as well as an abundance of Bifidobacterium animalis, a strain of good bacteria in the gut.
Additionally, they found a decrease in TNF-alpha, an inflammatory protein in the blood linked depression and cancer, according to a press release.
While the study shows the potential advantages of consuming crickets as a protein source, researchers admit the results need to be replicated on a larger scale in order to determine what components of the insect might contribute to gut health.