Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS), University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Nanna Roos is Associated Professor in human nutrition, with long-term research focus on the role of animal-source foods in diets in populations vulnerable to undernutrition in Asia and Africa. Since 2012, NR has also engaged in research in edible insects, in low-income settings as well as in a Western context. NR is leading and involved in several research projects addressing the potentials of edible insects, and – among others - currently leading a work package on insects for human consumption in the EU supported project SUSINCHAIN. NR was invited expert on the EFSA working group on insect production and consumption in 2015.
Insects are recognized as some of the most promising alternative food sources, which can contribute to future food systems by providing animal protein and nutrients, with lower environmental impacts than conventional livestock. More than 2000 species of edible insects have been identified as a part of traditional diets across cultures; however, only 8-10 species are currently identified to be suited for scaled-up farming, either for direct consumption or for animal feed. The insects farmed for human consumption are mainly cricket species (Acheta domestica, Gryllus bimarkulatus and few more), mealworm species (Tenebrio molitor and Alphitobius dieaperinus) and a few other species. The nutritional value of the insects is characterized as other animal-source foods, contributing protein, fat and micronutrients to a diet. In addition, insects contain chitin which is functionally a dietary fiber, though chitin may also have additional health benefits. This presentation will give an overview of the current knowledge of the nutritional value and indications of health benefits of edible insects, the environmental impacts of insect farming and thereby the potential role of insects in healthy and sustainable diets.