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One producer of insect foods makes some pretty bold claims about nutrition from cricket flour.

  • 65% protein by volume, complete with all 9 amino acids
  • A good ratio of omega 6:3 fats
  • High in fibre
  • High in minerals (iron, calcium)
  • High in vitamin B12

But how does this compare to plant foods? Are there any plant foods that are a higher source for any/all of these nutrients (on a per-calorie basis), or is cricket flour really a higher source of some nutrients than plant foods?

In other words, I'm asking if insects might be a good supply of nutrients that are difficult to obtain on plant-based diets.

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    Is this question on-topic for the site? Discuss on meta! – Nic May 14 '18 at 9:39
  • There is actually B12 in seaweed. It's not generally a reliable source, but its there. – Noobie Jun 26 '18 at 7:52
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Let's break it down.

Protein (Winner: plant-based)

Since the claim is about a powder product, it's fair to compare against plant-based protein powder. Vega Sport is 70% protein by mass which is higher than the cricket powder.

Balance of Omega 6:3 fats (Winner: plant-based)

Having a "perfect" 3:1 ratio is not actually ideal. Many other foods we eat have a worse ratio, so we end up needing something to correct that and put it back in balance. Adding cricket flour to your diet will only allow you to asymptotically approach balance with diminishing returns. To actually balance our fat intake we need something with a lot more omega-3 fats, like chia or flax seeds.

Fibre (Winner: plant-based)

The cricket powder has 1 gram insoluble dietary fibre (mostly chitin) per 12 gram serving, or 8% fibre by mass. That's about the same dietary fibre content as plain ol' lentils. For a real fibre boost, get some ground flaxseed which is about 27% fibre by mass.

Iron (Winner: plant-based)

The cricket flour provides 4% iron DV (daily value) in a 12 gram serving which is just slightly more than spinach. But spinach has 15x more iron on a per-calorie basis because it's so low in calories. And there are other foods like soy flour and sesame seeds that provide a lot more iron per gram.

Calcium (Winner: plant-based)

The cricket flour provides 2% calcium DV (24 mg) in a 12 gram serving. But almonds provide 32 mg calcium in a 12 gram serving, and there are other plant-based foods that provide even more.

Vitamin B12 (Winner: cricket flour)

Cricket flour wins this category because there are no plant foods that provide vitamin B12. However, a year's supply of vitamin B12 can be purchased for the same price as week's supply of cricket flour, so the regular vegan choice is actually cheaper.


Conclusion: in every category (except B12) there are plant foods that are better at providing that nutrient. And if it's too hard to eat a variety of foods, an all-in-one product like Vega One* provides a good amount of protein, iron, calcium, fibre, and omega-3 fats all in a single scoop for a lower price than cricket flour.

Basically... anything insects can do, plants can do better.

*I'm not affiliated with Vega, I just think they have a great product.

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