Green Cricket

Crickets for Breakfast?

No snickering, because this is already a thing. Forget about beef and chicken. Crickets are on the way to becoming the sustainable future of dietary protein. As a bonus, we even have a randomized, controlled trial to tell us cricket powder might make a healthful breakfast.

Probiotic Effects

Valerie Stull and colleagues conducted a blinded, randomized crossover study of whole cricket powder for breakfast. They studied safety and tolerability. They measured the effect on gut microbes and also on a marker of systemic inflammation – tnf-α.

For two weeks, volunteers ate a breakfast of two muffins and a shake. Half of the subjects received that breakfast with 25 grams of cricket powder mixed in. The other half got the same breakfast, but without the crickets. After a two-week washout period, subjects got two weeks of the opposite breakfast.

When the results were in, they found a favorable effect on gut microbes. In fact, Bifidobacterium animalis prevalence grew 5.7 times higher in the gut after the cricket breakfasts. That’s a good thing because B. animalis is one of those bugs that fosters better GI health.

On top of that, Stull et al found lower levels of tnf-α with crickets for breakfast. That suggests a favorable reduction in systemic inflammation.

Entrepreneurs Ready to Help

Not surprisingly, entrepreneurs are standing by to take your orders for cricket flour. Seek is up and running on Kickstarter with a line of cricket-fortified baking flours. And for an added boost, they have a celebrity chef cookbook.

All in all, crickets look like a pretty good alternative to unsustainable trends in livestock production. Less carbon, less water, less feed, and less land use. With the added benefit of good nutrition, it sounds promising. Time will tell if crickets can deliver on this promise.

Click here for the study and here for further perspective.

Green Cricket, photograph © Beckie / flickr

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August 5, 2018