A group of scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA), as part of a scientific team, conducted a study showing that eating mealworms can slow down weight gain and normalize blood cholesterol levels. According to researchers, these insects are a source of high-quality protein and dietary fiber. In this respect reports SciTechDaily.
Scientists conducted an experiment on two groups of laboratory mice. For 12 weeks, the rodents in the first group were fed a high-fat diet along with casein, a protein found in dairy products. The other group, the control group, followed a low-fat casein diet throughout the experiment. The researchers then added dried, powdered mealworms to the diets of both groups. During the dietary changes, rodents in the first group suffered from obesity and metabolic syndrome. These conditions increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
After eight weeks, the scientists measured the weight and body composition of all the mice and also took blood tests from them. It turned out that in mice on a high-fat diet, weight gain slowed down significantly, although the total calorie content of the diet remained the same. In addition, the inclusion of mealworms in the diet helped normalize blood cholesterol levels. Scientists think these changes are related to chitin, the fibrous material that makes up the mealworms’ exoskeleton. The study’s lead author, Kelly Swanson, a professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, added that chitin is comparable to fiber, which is effective at lowering cholesterol.
Swenson also noted that one day people will be ready to consider mealworms as an alternative protein source, but that may take time.
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