What Are the Health Benefits of Insect Protein?
By the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion, and the amount of food required to feed earth’s human inhabitants will almost double.
How will we all eat?
A 2013 U.N. Report cites insects as a critical way to help meet this rapidly increasing demand, providing a full range of nutritional benefits and coming with virtually zero environmental baggage. It’s a big reason why Neo Bites has devoted our company to harnessing the functional power of insect protein for our dogs and pups, and why we are the first pet food company to be certified carbon negative.
More than 2 billion people, mostly outside the Western World, already make insects a dietary staple. Insects are also utilized in feedstock. In fact, edible insects may have health benefits that are superior to other animal protein, making it an ideal candidate to become a healthy, sustainable alternative.
Insect protein contains high levels of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, fiber, essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants, improving prevention and management of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Here’s a closer look at insect protein’s health benefits.
Insects are a great source of protein
Gram for gram, insects are among the most protein-rich sources out there, containing all 10 essential amino acids required for dog nutrition:
Dogs need a lot of protein, especially growing puppies – ranging from 18-29% of their daily caloric intake. Dogs who don’t get enough protein run the risk of developing protein deficiency, which could lead to a host of health issues:
- Skin, hair, or nail problems
- Loss of muscle mass
- An increased appetite due to not feeling full
- Higher risk of bone fractures
- Higher caloric intake due to hunger, leading to obesity
- Increased risk of infections
- Depleted immune system
- Fatty liver
Insect protein provides fiber that most animals don’t
Edible insects are enjoyed in part because of their high digestibility. They contain dietary fiber, where most animal products do not.
Some insect exoskeletons are a good source of prebiotic fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system by providing “food” for other beneficial bacteria that grow within healthy guts.
Chitin, the most common type of fiber in insects, is earning attention from researchers because of its biological activity. The fiber acts as an immune system booster, including antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and antioxidant effects.
Dietary fiber can be an overlooked source of nutrition for dogs, who should eat foods that are between 2-5% fiber or 6-10% for high-fiber needs. Dietary fiber provides many other benefits for dogs:
- Promotes bowel movement regularity
- Aids in weight loss
- Contributes to healthy blood sugar levels
- Reduces colon cancer risk
Not enough fiber can lead to many problems for dogs:
- Loose or watery stools
- Blocked anal glands
- Long-term issues like colon diseases and obesity
Healthy fats from insect protein key for development
Insect protein is unique in that it provides an ideal balance of both omega 3 and omega 6, more than any other animal – even salmon. Omega 3 is especially important for growing puppies to support brain and central nervous tissue development.
These healthy fats, also important for pregnant/gestating dogs, are essential for every stage of a dog’s life, and:
- Aids in reproduction, growth, immune function, and skin/coat health
- Is involved in cell membrane structure and cell function
- Assists in managing inflammation, especially with skin and joints
High levels of antioxidants from insect protein
Considering cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs, antioxidants should be high on the list of nutritional targets for pup parents.
Insect protein – especially in the form of specially formulated functional toppers and treats – is a highly digestible, rich source of antioxidants.
One recent study found that the antioxidant power in insect protein was far greater than that of orange juice and olive oil.
Great-tasting toppers unlock insect protein benefits
Neo Bites is the first pet food company to create functional dog food toppers that harness all the health benefits of insect protein.
Made in small batches and specially formulated for specific health needs, Neo Bites is the best-tasting, most affordable way for you to supercharge your dog’s mealtime with the health benefits of insect protein.