The ‘extraordinary’ nutritional potential of cricket powder has researchers jumping

For several years, crickets have been proposed as a new source of nutrients in the human diet since they possess bioactive molecules, including a high content of proteins, lipids, chitin, vitamins and minerals.

In a new Italian study, published in ‘Antioxidants’,The nutritional and functional properties of a new spray-dried (SD) cricket powder were evaluated. The powder is characterized by physicochemical properties (morphology, size distribution, solid state, thermal profiles and surface zeta potential) and antioxidant properties. Moreover, preclinical properties (cytocompatibility and pro-inflammatory immune response) were evaluated.

The obtained data lead the authors to suggest that SD crickets represent an interesting medical food material with anticipated future applications in tissue engineering due to their “remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity”.

the results

Dimensional analysis suggests a narrow size distribution with a mean diameter of 22 µm that should improve flavor. Characterization of the solid state highlights the presence of lipids, proteins and chitin. The amount of chitin was also evaluated, since it is a bioactive polysaccharide with antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. The powder was found to have an average chitin content of 32.80 ± 7.32 g/kg which researchers say could contribute to protection against inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. An in vitro protein digestibility study revealed that SD cricket powder is characterized by a k-PDCAAS value of 1, which means that it is a protein source that could provide all the amino acids needed by humans for optimal nutrition. This could be related to the fine particle size that favors bioavailability. Moreover, antioxidant tests revealed an increase in both radical scavenging activity and iron ion chelating (binding) activity, suggesting that the powder possesses antioxidant activity.“This aspect could prove to be of great interest to the medical field, since free radicals generated by altered metabolic processes can cause significant injury and lead to numerous diseases including cancer, inflammation and neurological conditions.” the review states. Moreover, SD crickets show no toxic effect on cell viability towards Caco-2 cells and monocyte-derived macrophages.“In conclusion, research on SD crickets highlights their potential nutritional value as they can be considered equivalent to dairy proteins, eggs and cow’s milk, all highly nutritious foods. Moreover, the antioxidant properties, biocompatibility, thermal stability and anti-inflammatory properties support the potential use of SD crickets in to the food industry by providing health benefits in addition to their basic nutritional value.“These results were confirmed using different batches, showing a low variability in the properties of SD crickets from one batch to another. The consistency of the batches and their properties prove that SD crickets represent an interesting material and that one could imagine future applications, such as their use in tissue engineering due to their outstanding antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.”

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