Eat beetles to beat obesity

The thought of eating beetles, caterpillars and ants may give you the creeps, but the authors of a United Nations report said the health benefits of consuming nutritious insects could help fight obesity.

More than 1,900 species of insects are eaten around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia, but people in the West generally shun crunchy fare such as grasshoppers.

The authors of the study by the Forestry Department, part of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said many insects contained the same amount of protein and minerals as meat and more healthy fats doctors recommend.

"In the West, we have a cultural bias and think that because insects come from developing countries, they cannot be good," said scientist Arnold van Huis from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, one of the authors of the report.

FAO's Eva Muller said restaurants in Europe were starting to offer insect-based dishes, presenting them to diners as exotic delicacies.

Danish restaurant Noma, for example, crowned the world's best for three years running in one poll, is renowned for ingredients including ants and fermented grasshoppers.

Professor van Huis said barriers to enjoying dishes such as bee larvae yogurt were psychological. In a blind test carried out by his team, nine out of 10 people preferred meatballs made from roughly half meat and half mealworms to those made from meat.

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