The Surprising Nutritional Benefits Of Ants
Have you heard about entomophagy? It is a habit of eating insects. Entomophagy might be a completely uncommon thing in the Western world. However, it has been a common habit in cultures across the globe for centuries. People living in Asia, Africa, and Latin America include insects as an integral part of their diets.
While insects are a source of essential nutrients in some places and are delicacies in other areas, caterpillars, bees, beetles, wasps, and ants are the most commonly eaten insects. Ants are a source of protein that boosts heart health and fights oxidative stress. Here, you will get to know the pros and cons of eating ants.
World’s Popular Ant Dishes
While a majority of the countries in the West do not eat insects, they are a vital food source by many in other regions. There are many species of ants, but you cannot consume all ants. Some edible ants and the countries where they are a part of the diet are leaf-cutting ants, black ants, honey ants, and weaver ants. Leaf-cutting ants are popular in Brazil, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia.
People in Kenya and China mainly consume black ants. These ants tend to store honey in their stomachs. Honey ants are ingested by the indigenous communities residing in Australia. Weaver ants are a part of the diet in India, Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Papua New Guinea.
How To Prepare Ant Dishes?
Usually, people eat ants in either adult or larvae form. They are eaten whole or as one of the main ingredients in several dishes. In India, they boil the eggs, and larvae of weaver ants add the spices. Chutney of adult ants is pretty popular in the Indian subcontinent. One can buy weaver ants in cans in Thailand.
In Laos, weaver ants give an acidic flavor to fish soups. In Mexico, leaf-cutting ants are first roasted, ground, and used to add flavor to mayonnaise. These ants are also used to make sauces. Leaf-cutting ant queens are fried and sold at local markets in Colombia. In the Peruvian Amazon, people roast or fry the weaver ants. They first roast them, and then cassava flour is added to them.
Ants are a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. The eggs and larvae of weaver ants give you approximately 7 grams of protein for every 100 grams. While black ants provide 40-45 grams of protein per 100 grams, leaf-cutting ants provide 42-53 grams of protein for every 100 grams. Aside from that, you get vital minerals from ants like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Chitin is the most common type of fiber you can get from insects. It is insoluble, and therefore, your body can’t digest chitin.
Benefits of Having Ants and Insects in Your Diet
There are various benefits of eating ants. First, it’s environmentally friendly. Increasing food production through sustainable ways has become an issue these days. Ants are edible insects, and therefore, they may be a healthy and sustainable source of food. Since insects do not have a high environmental impact, you can include them in your diet. The feed conversion efficiency in insects is quite high. This implies that in comparison to other protein sources, insects require fewer kilograms of food for every kilogram of weight gain. To make things simpler, crickets need four times less feed than sheep, while they need 12 ties less feed than cattle.
Ants are a great animal-based source of protein. The demand for meat has grown over the years owing to the growth in population globally. As a result, alternative animal protein sources can meet the demand and thereby diminish the pressure on the environment. Ants are a good source of animal protein that increases protein intake and improves the overall quality of diet. Also, insects play a role in cutting down environmental contamination.
According to some sources, ants may be a good source of antioxidants and may also improve heart health. More studies on the effects of ants on human health are underway, and researchers are trying to find if this would be a great way to boost health. Are you willing to try this ant diet? Do let us know in the comments section!
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