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08.08.2013


Insect protein just as good as soya protein, not as good as milk protein

As protein powders and bars containing whey and casein become unaffordable, food technologists are searching for alternatives. Researchers at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands studied the proteins in insects such as house crickets and the Dubia cockroach, and discovered that the nutritional value of insect-based protein is comparable to that of soya protein. On the other hand, insect protein is not as good as casein.
As protein powders and bars containing whey and casein become unaffordable, food technologists are searching for alternatives. Researchers at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands studied the proteins in insects such as house crickets and the Dubia cockroach, and discovered that the nutritional value of insect-based protein is comparable to that of soya protein. On the other hand, insect protein is not as good as casein.

The designers of sports foods are eagerly awaiting the first generation of usable insect-based protein powders. The slogans are ready for the ad campaigns. BIG by BUGS. BFG - Bugs For Growth. Get BIGUGS. That kind of thing.

What's more, proteins derived from insects are environment friendly. The best animal protein you can buy in the supermarket right now in environmental terms is chicken protein. A kilogram of chicken requires half of the amount of inputs that it takes to produce a kilogram of pork. But a kilogram of cricket protein requires half the amount of inputs required to produce a kilogram of chicken.

In addition, some insects can eat plant-based foods that humans are not able to consume. Sounds like a win-win situation.

But what about the quality of insect-based protein? Does it contain the amino acids we need? The researchers in Wageningen answered this question by extracting protein from five different types of insects and analysing it.

1 = Mealworm beetle or Tenebrio molitor; 2 = Darkling beetle or Zophobas morio; 3 = Lesser Mealworm beetle or Alphitobius diaperinus; 4 = House cricket or Acheta domesticus; 5 = Dubia cockroach or Blaptica dubia.


Tenebrio molitor Zophobas morio Alphitobius diaperinus Acheta domesticus Blaptica dubia
Tenebrio molitor Zophobas morio Alphitobius diaperinus Acheta domesticus Blaptica dubia

[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]


Your mouth's already watering, we're sure.



In terms of efficiency it was the larvae of the Darkling beetle and the adult crickets that did well. These consisted of almost 20 percent protein. In comparison: beef consists of 18 percent protein, chicken 22 percent, pork 15 percent, eggs 13 percent and milk 4 percent.

Soya consists of 37 percent protein.

For food technologists it's the house-cricket protein that's most interesting. The researchers were able to make the strongest gels from this type of protein. That's probably why American companies have already started selling bars containing cricket protein. Take a look on chapul.com. [chapul.com]

However, the quality of the amino acids in cricket protein and Dubia cockroach protein was not so high. The biological value of the amino acids in these two protein forms was lower than that of soya protein. The amino-acid quality of the Lesser Mealworm beetle, the Mealworm beetle and the Darkling beetle was equal to that of soya protein, but less than that of casein. Click on the table for a larger version.


As protein powders and bars containing whey and casein become unaffordable, food technologists are searching for alternatives. Researchers at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands studied the proteins in insects such as house crickets and the Dubia cockroach, and discovered that the nutritional value of insect-based protein is comparable to that of soya protein. On the other hand, insect protein is not as good as casein.


Although people eat about nineteen hundred different types of insects worldwide, in the west insects are definitely not regarded as food. Even if technologists manage to incorporate insect proteins invisibly in products, consumer scientists and companies think itís going to be an uphill struggle to gain widespread acceptance of insect products on the mainstream market.

Source:
Food Chemistry dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.05.115.

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