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Should You Really Be Eating Crickets for Protein?

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Ask Keri: Suddenly everyone is talking about eating crickets. Are they actually healthy?

Keri Says: In fact, crickets are an excellent, environmentally sustainable source of protein, fiber, and important minerals—if you can get over the gross-out factor.

Where to start? Consider the fact that billions of people around the world engage in entomophagy (a cool term for “eating insects”) on a regular basis. Americans, who get squeamish about the idea of chewing on bugs, are in the minority.

Plus, even if you can’t get on board with swallowing antennae, most of the new companies that are promoting eating crickets are grinding them up into powders for things like protein bars, smoothies, and baking. In other words, you’ll have no idea there were once wings and legs involved.

RELATED: 3 Fast, Homemade Protein Snacks

Don’t bug out! Get the facts, below.

Eating Crickets: The Nutrition Facts

Ounce for ounce, crickets contain almost twice the amount of protein compared to beef, and like meat, that protein consists of all essential amino acids. They also contain more iron and magnesium, two super important minerals.  One reason for that is that when you eat crickets, you’re eating the whole animal rather than just the muscle, and the bones and organs are where a lot of the good stuff (nutritionally speaking) is.

RELATED: How Much Protein Should You Really Be Eating?

eating crickets

(Photo: Exo)

Eating Crickets: It’s Good for the Planet

The most compelling argument for eating crickets, though, is that they provide those nutrients while making a much lighter impact on the planet compared to other proteins, especially beef.

When it comes to sustainability, they check off almost every box. They don’t require a lot of inputs—they use very little water and are really efficient at turning feed into meat. And they grow quickly in small spaces and produce a small fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to beef production.

Eating Crickets: How to do it

Alright, now to the (creepy crawly) nitty gritty. Lots of restaurants—especially Mexican restaurants—incorporate whole crickets into dishes like tacos and guacamole. And it is possible to go whole bug and buy the crispy guys to pop like chips.

However, I’m guessing most of you would rather ease your way into this, and there are many ways to do so.

Chapul makes clean protein powders you can use in your morning smoothies that blend cricket protein with other healthy sources like pea and flax. Exo makes protein bars that come in familiar flavors like Banana Bread and PB & J. (Some of those are high in sugar, so watch out for that!) Chirps makes healthier chips by combining cricket flour with ingredients like navy beans and chia seeds (and non-GMO corn).

And Seek is doing all kinds of innovative things with cricket flour, including making protein snack bites and granola. The company is even in the process of launching a line of high-protein baking flours with the help of a long list of celebrity chefs.

No matter which avenue you choose, it’s worth giving eating crickets a shot, since according to most experts, this is just the beginning of a new era of insect-based cuisine. We’ll deal with the idea of mealworms and beetles when we need to.

(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)

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