Nutritional value of insects and ways to manipulate their composition

Oonincx, D.G.A.B.; Finke, M.D.


This article reports on the nutrients present in insects and factors affecting their variability. Data on protein content and amino acid profiles of a variety of insect species are discussed and their amino acid profiles compared to nutrient requirements of growing broiler chicks, catfish, trout, swine, and human adults and young children. Both in vitro and in vivo protein digestibility data for a variety of insect species is presented and factors affecting these data are discussed. Furthermore, the fat content and fatty acid profiles of a variety of insect species is reviewed, with special attention on omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Information on carbohydrates, fibre and chitin in insects is shown along with potential effects on nutrient availability. This is followed by a discussion of essential minerals in insects with an emphasis on calcium and phosphorus. Data on insect vitamin content is shown along with a discussion of antinutritional factors such as phytate and thiaminase, which can adversely affect their nutritional value. Dietary effects on insect nutrient composition are reviewed with an emphasis on essential minerals, heavy metals, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Lastly, the effects of processing, including protein extraction and various cooking methods on insect composition are discussed. In summary, this article provides an overview of the nutrient content of insects, and how select nutrients can be altered.