Wild harvested edible insects: potential for nutrition security

Faith A. Manditsera

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Edible insects are identified as a valuable source of proteins and micronutrients with the potential to contribute in alleviating malnutrition especially in developing countries where the practice is traditional. In these countries, the communities depend mostly on collection of the insects from the natural environments. Knowledge on the actual contribution of wild harvested insects to nutrition security is still limited as there are limited studies to this effect. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate how wild harvested edible insects can contribute to nutrition security in developing countries. In this study, we used two wild harvested edible insects (Eulepida mashona and Henicus whellani) consumed in Zimbabwe as case study. A survey on the consumption patterns of edible insects showed that that insect consumption was significantly higher in rural (89.7%) than in urban (80.0%) areas.  Taste and nutritional value are the main motives of consumption for both rural and urban.  Availability of edible insects influences both urban (64.0%) and rural (83.0%) respondents’ consumption of insects. Nutritional analysis that the protein content ranged between 52-56% (Eulepida mashona) and 59-70% (Henicus whellani), which is comparable to that of animal-based protein sources. Essential amino acids of both insect species did meet the WHO/FAO (277 mg/g protein) requirement for adult humans. The iron (24.2- 52.9mg/100g) and zinc content (10.0-20.9mg/100g) are high for both species.  The fat content of both species was low (<10%), with PUFA/SFA and omega 6/3 ratios recommendable for a healthy diet. Raw insects had a higher protein in vitro digestibility than the boiled and roasted insects, and the maximal decrease in protein digestibility was around 25%. Iron was the least bioaccessible mineral in both insects. Eulepida mashona had a much higher iron bioaccessibility (30.7%) as compared to Henicus whellani (8.11%). Boiling resulted in about 50% decrease in iron and zinc bioaccessibility in both species while roasting did not. It is necessary to extend shelf life of harvested insects by drying to improve availability.  However, lipid oxidation can affect shelf life of dried insects. Monitoring the concentration of the volatile lipid oxidation products (VLOPs) revealed that lipid oxidation occurred during storage at 4oC and 50oC for both insect species dried at 40oC and 100oC. The high protein and mineral content of wild harvested insects justifies the current traditional insect value chain.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Fogliano, Vincenzo, Promotor
  • Lakemond, Catriona, Co-promotor
  • Luning, Pieternel, Co-promotor
Award date10 Sept 2019
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463950480
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2019


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