It's More Nutritious For You to Eat a Bug Than a Steak

Illustration for article titled Its More Nutritious For You to Eat a Bug Than a Steak

So, what are you having for dinner tonight? Some grilled chicken? Yet another steak? Allow us to change your mind.

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Researchers at the University of Oxford put together a new study published in Nature in which insects and some of our more traditional livestock options (chicken, beef, or pork) battle it out for the title of most nutritious. Two meats enter, which one will leave?

To determine what “nutritious” in this particular instance meant, researchers used two measures: the Ofcom model and Nutrient Value Scores. The Ofcom model uses a scoring system where the amount of energy, sodium, saturated fat, and sugars in an 100 gram sample of a particular food is used to come up with a score from 1 - 100. The higher the Ofcom score, the more nutritious food. NVS also uses energy, protein, and fat levels in an amount of food, but it also throws in points for things like vitamin and calcium levels.

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So what they did they find? For round one, with the Ofcom scores, friends, we have ourselves a draw. Neither meat (either the traditional cuts or the offals) nor insect scored significantly higher than the other.

Illustration for article titled Its More Nutritious For You to Eat a Bug Than a Steak

When we look at the score that takes vitamins and minerals into account though, chicken and beef are both handily beaten out by their tiny foes, crickets, palm weevils, larvae, and mealworms:

Illustration for article titled Its More Nutritious For You to Eat a Bug Than a Steak
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Of course it’s not just about nutritiousness. Livestock tends to grow slowly, over years. And in those years, they need plenty of food, space, and water to grow. Insects lives, though, are typically measured in days, not years, and the resources they use in tiny in comparison. In other words, Ofcom levels may be at a tie, but I think insects can still claim victory.

Charts via Nature, Top image via Nordic Food Lab

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DISCUSSION

Taste, my friends. It’s all about taste. I have eaten bugs. In the military we were taught that bugs are a good source of protein and if you’re without food, eat them and you’ll survive. Then they made us eat some. Ever popped a live grub in your mouth and tried to swallow it? Nope. You gots to chew that sucker first, son. And you know what happens when you bite into a live grub? Imagine using your teeth to pop the biggest zit ever. Yep. It pops. And the taste? Well.....it’s not anything like chicken, I’ll tell you what. Grubs might keep you from starving to death, but they do not taste good. Maybe if you cook them first.....

And I did try fried crickets once. Rather bland. Not really bad tasting, but not good, either. The problem I had was all the little bits that get stuck in your teeth.....