The objective of this paper is to present the nutritional benefit aspects of edible insects consumed. In Africa, termites, larvae of raphia weevil, caterpillars, crickets, bees, maggots, butterflies, weevil, etc. are significant sources of food. These insects belong mainly to the orders of: Isoptera, Orthoptera, Dictyoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera. Depending on the species, Insects are rich in proteins, minerals (K, Ca, Mg, Zn, P, Fe) and/or vitamins (thiamine/B1, riboflavine/B2, pyridoxine/B6, acid pantothenic, niacin). As people in rural areas suffer from under nutrition, especially protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) in Africa, Latin America and Asia, alternative nutritional food sources are needed.
From ants to beetle larvae – eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets – to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide. More than 1900 insect species have been documented in literature as edible, most of them in tropical countries. The most commonly eaten insect groups are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and plant hoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites, dragonflies and flies. The purpose of the present review is to determine the status of present research in the context of the potentiality of insects as alternative food source to cope up with the emerging problem of global food crisis. Considering the economic, nutritional and ecological advantages of this traditional food source, its promotion deserves more attention both from national governments and assistance programmes.