Insects May Be a Sustainable Source of Omega-3s

While a crunchy bite of roasted insects won’t sound appealing to many Americans, consuming oil extracted from insects may be an easier idea to swallow. That would be good news for Wageningen University researcher, Daylan Tzompa Sosa, who recently discovered that insects may be a good source of omega-3s. In various parts of the world, insects are processed to be used as a protein source. This protein extraction process also yields oil that is normally thrown away. Tzompa Sosa decided to test the insect oil and discovered that it contained both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3s). This is an exciting discovery, as insects are a more sustainable source of omega-3s than fish. Fish oil can be expensive to produce and can have negative environmental impacts, while insects can live on organic waste and their oil is extracted via an environmentally friendly process. Tzompa Sosa hopes that insect-derived omega-3s could replace other sources of added fatty acids and oils in food products, supplements, and cosmetics.

So, what kind of creepy crawlers are we talking about here? Tzompa Sosa has extracted oil from a variety of insects, including mealworms, beetle larvae, crickets, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and soldier flies. She reports that most of the oils have a pleasant or neutral smell—although some aren’t too pleasing to the olfactory system, such as roach oil. That means that, thankfully, we probably don’t have to worry about seeing roach oil-fortified yogurt on grocery shelves anytime soon.

Source: Wageningen University

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