New study: ant and insect consumption protects against cancer

New study: ant and insect consumption protects against cancer

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Reduced cancer risk from eating insects?

Will we eat ants and other insects in the future to protect ourselves from cancer? Researchers have now found that ants, grasshoppers, crickets and other insects contain antioxidants that can reduce the risk of cancer.

The University of Teramo's recent study found that some insects contain important antioxidants that can protect against cancer. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Frontiers in Nutrition".

What are free radicals?

So-called antioxidants are important for reducing chemical reactions in the body that produce free radicals, which are believed to increase the risk of cancer. Free radicals have also been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Antioxidants are found in insects and a number of different foods, including fruits and vegetables. Food experts have long believed that consumers in western countries will need to start including insects in their diet in the coming decades.

Insects provide protein, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and fiber

The researchers found that, after grinding, many insects had multiple concentrations of the antioxidants found in orange juice or olive oil, two of the most commonly recommended free radical control agents. Water-soluble extracts from grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets had the highest concentrations of antioxidants. The concentration was five times higher than in fresh orange juice. Locusts, black ants and mealworms contain the highest levels of polyphenols with special antioxidative potential, the authors of the study report. Fat-soluble extracts from silkworms and giant cicadas had twice the antioxidant effect as olive oil. The results show that edible insects are an excellent source of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Dietary habits should be adjusted

The researchers report that at least two billion people, a quarter of the world's population, regularly consume insects. This should also motivate people in western countries to change their diet. Dietary habits should be adjusted to increase the level of antioxidants. For the new study, the researchers examined a number of commercially available edible insects and invertebrates to determine their antioxidant activity. Inedible parts such as wings and spines were removed, then the insects were ground up and prepared for consumption. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Carla Di Mattia, Natalia Battista, Giampiero Sacchetti, Mauro Serafini: Antioxidant Activities in vitro of Water and Liposoluble Extracts Obtained by Different Species of Edible Insects and Invertebrates, in Frontiers in Nutrition (query: 15.07.2019), Frontiers in Nutrition

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