We received a peculiar question a little while ago about eating worms and maggots, or more precisely about consuming worm oil and maggot oil, which we presume is just the oil produced by worms and maggots when they are cooked. The reader is wondering if this oil is a healthy fat, and also whether it is okay to consume at night. The reader seems to use the word “maggot” to mean “edible worm,” so we think he is mostly curious about the oil of any worm that can be eaten (which are in fact almost always larvae), not about maggots specifically, at least as we might understand the word “maggot” (the larval form of flies). Basically, the reader seems to be asking for nutritional advice about worms and worm oil (or larvae and larvae oil).
Although this question will strike our (mostly Western) audience as strange, it won’t be to readers in the many parts of the world that eat bugs, a practice known as entomophagy. When you consider how widespread the eating of insects (which includes larvae) is, then, it really isn’t that weird that someone would ask for specific dietary advice about a common meal. If you replace the word “worm” above with, say, “pork,” the question becomes quite commonplace: is the oil produced by pork a healthy fat, and is it advisable to consume such oil at night? The topic of eating insects/worms isn’t new to us either. We have written about eating insects in the Philippines, and we have also written about eating Phoenix Worms specifically. We have also written a general article on the question of whether or not it is safe to eat worms.
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Since the reader’s question essentially amounts to, as we said above, nutritional advice, we aren’t really qualified to answer it. We wouldn’t want to offer much advice about eating any sort of food, let alone a food that we are wholly unfamiliar with. However, we know that eating insects has a lot of champions, and we have no reason to assume that insects are any worse for you than other sources of protein. Indeed, insects are actually quite a good form of protein – for one, they are an extremely efficient source, and insects also have all nine essential amino acids. (There is a good chart on Slate if you want to check out some common insects’ nutritional content.). Moreover, protein is one of the better foods you can have before going to bed because it speeds up your metabolism, so bugs might be a good thing to eat if you need a snack before you sleep. As for the fats associated with insects, which seems to be our reader’s specific concern, we know that many insects are quite low in calories (and carbohydrates too). For instance, 100 grams of crickets only has 121 calories, according to one of the many articles outlining the benefits of eating bugs.
So, we can’t offer our reader the advice of a dietitian, but overall it seems that our reader should be comfortable with the nutritional content of bugs, regardless of when she eats them.
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