The mineral composition of five insects as sold for human consumption in Southern Africa
Edible insects have been proposed as an alternative protein source that is economically and environmentally preferable to livestock, and certain species may be high in nutrients that benefit human health. We present data describing the mineral content of five edible insects as sold in South Africa and Zimbabwe. We report high variation between and within species, and note that these insects contain significant quantities of potentially beneficial, and potentially harmful, micronutrients. Two caterpillars were notably high in Fe and Zn, which are important nutrients for combating iron deficiency anemia. Na content varied both between and within species, suggesting that some sellers add quantities of salt that could be harmful to health. Mn levels were high in edible termites. We concluded that caterpillars can be promoted as nutrient rich foods in southern Africa; that added salt should be limited in commercial products; and that further research is required to determine whether common serving sizes of termites may put consumers in danger of manganese poisoning.
Key words: Edible insects, nutrition, mineral composition, micronutrients, Lepidoptera.
Abbreviation: DALYs, Disability-adjusted life years; Na, sodium; K, potassium; Ca, calcium; Mg, magnesium; Al, aluminium; P, phosphorus; S, sulphur; Cu, copper; Fe, iron; Mn, manganese; Zn, zinc; DRI, daily recommended intake.