All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.-George Orwell
Most of us who read the novel Animal Farm would be familiar with the above phrase. It is an interpretation of how hierarchy in contexts, such as businesses, politics or even everyday life, can lead to discrimination and suppression of a lesser-skilled or blue collar demographic by the ruling class.
This blog post is not suggesting that some protein types are being discriminated against. (We surely hope not!!) Instead, we will explore in depth the role proteins play in ensuring our bodies function effectively. And why our cricket flour product is a superior and more effective option compared to other animal and plant protein sources in delivering our protein requirements.
The Fundamentals of Protein
Proteins are the essential building blocks of living organisms. The very origin of the word – from the Greek term protos, which means “first” – reflects the top priority status of protein in human nutrition.
The protein we consume is used by our bodies to perform several key functions.
(1) Our skin, hair and nails, parts of the human body that are endlessly growing and stretching, are made up mostly of protein.
(2) Every cell and tissue in the human body contains protein. In fact, it is the second largest component after water! And due to this, protein is needed to build, maintain and repair cells and tissues. Which makes it an important component of the bones, muscles and cartilage that are responsible for our movement and strength.
(3) Protein is needed to produce the enzymes, hormones, antibodies and other chemicals that are essential for maintaining immunity, transporting oxygen around the body, regulating metabolism and insulin production, digesting food etc.
As shown above, due to important roles that protein plays in the proper functioning and maintenance of our bodies, we need relatively large amounts of it. But unlike fats and carbohydrates, our bodies are not able to store protein and draw from it as required. Hence the need to obtain it from our everyday diets.
The Protein Dilemma
In the past, more often than not, our protein choices were influenced by upbringing, familiarity, convenience and price. Across the world, the sources that were conventionally used to deliver our protein requirements range from meat, fish and other seafood, eggs, legumes, beans, pulses, nuts, dairy products etc.
Consumers in this day and age, however, especially millennials, parents with young children and those who lead busy, on-the-go lifestyles, are becoming increasingly savvy and aware about the food choices they make. They are drawn to natural, nutrient-dense and minimally processed food options and are willing to give up familiar foods for ones that do not contain artificial ingredients. There is also a growing interest in a more environment-friendly diet with many claiming that it is important to them that the food they consume is produced in a sustainable manner.
This shift in consumer dynamics have led to the focus falling squarely on novel protein ingredients such as plant and insect based proteins. Extensive research has been and continues to be conducted to explore the potential of these ingredients in terms of their nutritional and functional properties for food formulation. Plant-based protein isolates, particularly pea, chickpea and mungbean, have gained popularity amongst consumers, partly in response to the abovementioned reasons, as well as the rise of veganism and vegetarianism in western cultures. But existing research has also shown these isolates to be less digestible than animal-based proteins.
Cricket Flour is the Logical Protein Choice for the Modern Consumer
Insect-based proteins, such as cricket flour, have, in recent years, received substantial attention in the food industry. Our AIFS Cricket Flour has approximately 70% protein on dry weight basis. Using the Reference Daily intake for an individual weighing 65kg, the person only requires 52g of protein per day to maintain a healthy and adequate diet. That works out to only 75g of our cricket flour.
Furthermore, the protein digestibility of our cricket flour is close to 90%. In comparison, beef and egg white are at 100% while plant-based proteins are, on average, close to 50%. This means that our cricket flour is actually more effective than plant-based options at converting the protein we consume as food into protein in our cells and tissues!!
In addition, our cricket flour has a pleasant and mild taste and aroma. According to chefs and food technologists we have worked with, the taste and smell profile is quite similar to pistachios. Our cricket flour is also 100% natural and does not contain any hormones, preservatives, antibiotics or any other chemical inputs. Our cricket flour can be used across several food, snack and beverage applications. It is a minimally processed whole foods product. And has a very low environmental footprint.
In Part 2 of this blog post, we will explore how the amino acid profile of our cricket flour makes it a complete protein in comparison with other animal and plant based options.
Interested in empowering yourself to eat better and challenging societal norms? Try out our AIFS Cricket Flour in your everyday cooked dishes, baked goods and smoothies!!