The longhorn grasshopper, Ruspolia differens
(Serville), plays an important role as a food source across Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is consumed as a delicacy in both rural and urban areas. The effect of two drying methods (freeze-drying and oven-drying), employed after blanching, on the proximate, fatty acid and mineral composition of the two most common morphs was determined. Ruspolia differens
grasshoppers were harvested in Uganda and Kenya from wild swarms during the rainy periods of November–December 2016. Based on cuticular coloration, we identified three morphs, green, brown and purple, which occurred at a ratio of 65:33:2, respectively. Results indicated that these insects have a high lipid content of 36%, as well as significant protein levels ranging between 33% and 46% dry matter. Oleic acid (44%) and palmitic acid (28%) were the two most abundant fatty acids; while the presence of arachidonic acid (0.6%) and docosahexaenoic acid (0.21%) suggests that Ruspolia differens
is also a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The observed amino acid profile showed similar trends in all morphs, and all essential amino acids were present. Calcium (896–1035 mg/100 g), potassium (779–816 mg/100 g) and phosphorus (652–685 mg/100 g) were quite high among the minerals. The presence of the trace elements iron (217–220 mg/100 g), zinc (14.2–14.6 mg/100 g), manganese (7.4–8.3 mg/100 g) and copper (1.66 mg/100 g) suggests that inclusion of these grasshoppers in human diets may aid in combatting micronutrient deficiencies. Oven-drying Ruspolia differens
delivered the same nutritional quality as freeze-drying. Hence, both drying approaches can be adequately used to formulate insect-based food products without noticeable nutritional changes.
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