The increase in the world population and the intensification of climate change reinforce the need for alternatives regarding protein sources. As such, plant-based meat and dairy products have taken the lead in gaining popularity among consumers.
However, they are not the only ones that can replace traditional meat. New research has shown that mealworms are highly edible and ecologically sustainable sources of protein.
If the consumption of insects is still far from attracting Western societies, researchers make us think about this possibility. To do this, they rely on the fact that insects are much more beneficial for health.
Insect protein slows weight gain
Researchers at the University of Illinois gave mice a high-fat diet with casein. The mice followed this diet for 12 weeks before switching to alternative proteins from insects. In parallel, they fed a control group a lean diet with casein throughout the experiment.
When mealworms were introduced, the first group was obese and suffered from metabolic syndrome. They also had signs of conditions that increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other health problems.
Then they started giving the mice two types of powdered mealworms. The latter replaced either 50% or 100% of the casein in the diet. After eight weeks, the team measured the weight, body composition, and blood metabolites of the mice. They also looked at gene expression in their livers and adipose tissue. They found that the general health of the mice improved. The protein did not cause the obese mice to lose weight, but their weight gain slowed.
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A new candidate to replace conventional proteins
Besides slowing weight gain, insect protein appears to have other benefits. The most significant was the improvement in the blood lipid profile of the mice. Their LDL, commonly called “bad cholesterol”decreased and their HDL, “good cholesterol”, increased. From a gene expression perspective, inflammation decreased and some lipid and glucose metabolism genes were changed.
This places insects among the best alternatives to the protein shortage that is currently becoming a reality. This is hardly surprising given the many populations around the world who have been consuming them for millennia.
However, Western societies do not yet seem ready for this regime change. Additionally, mealworm protein has not yet been approved for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCE : SCITECHDAILY
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