Impact of edible cricket consumption on gut microbiota in healthy adults, a double-blind, randomized crossover trial

Authors: Valerie J. Stull, Elijah Finer, Rachel S. Bergmans, Hallie P. Febvre, Colin Longhurst, Daniel K. Manter, Jonathan A. Patz, Tiffany L. Weir


Edible insects are often considered a nutritious, protein-rich, environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional livestock with growing popularity among North American consumers. While the nutrient composition of several insects is characterized, all potential health impacts have not been evaluated. In addition to high protein levels, crickets contain chitin and other fibers that may influence gut health. In this study, we evaluated the effects of consuming 25 grams/day whole cricket powder on gut microbiota composition, while assessing safety and tolerability. Twenty healthy adults participated in this six-week, double-blind, crossover dietary intervention. Participants were randomized into two study arms and consumed either cricket-containing or control breakfast foods for 14 days, followed by a washout period and assignment to the opposite treatment. Blood and stool samples were collected at baseline and after each treatment period to assess liver function and microbiota changes. Results demonstrate cricket consumption is tolerable and non-toxic at the studied dose. Cricket powder supported growth of the probiotic bacterium, Bifidobacterium animalis, which increased 5.7-fold. Cricket consumption was also associated with reduced plasma TNF-α. These data suggest that eating crickets may improve gut health and reduce systemic inflammation; however, more research is needed to understand these effects and underlying mechanisms.

Source: Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1)