Edible Lepidoptera as human foods – a comprehensive review
As the global population continues to grow, traditional protein sources like meat and fish are becoming increasingly unsustainable due to their environmental impact. Edible insects, on the other hand, are highly nutritious, require minimal resources to produce, and emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases than traditional livestock. Lepidoptera, one of the most diverse insect orders, contains some popular edible species that have been consumed traditionally for centuries across the globe. Based on this review, about 24 families with a total of about 350 edible lepidopteran species were recorded. They are often praised for their excellent nutritional value, such as having high protein and healthy fat content. Edible lepidopterans also contain minerals, essential amino acids, and vitamins, making them a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. They also contain bioactive compounds which have various nutraceutical and pharmaceutical properties. Furthermore, some edible lepidopterans can be farmed and require minimal space and resources. However, there are significant challenges associated with their use as food. One of the primary challenges is the lack of regulations governing their production and distribution, which creates uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike. Consumer acceptance is also a significant barrier to the widespread adoption of insects as food. To overcome these challenges, there is a need for clear regulations that ensure the safety and quality of insect-based products. Furthermore, it is important to raise awareness about the nutritional and environmental benefits of edible insects as sustainable food for the future to promote their acceptance among consumers.