Exploring The Food and Nutritional Potential of Three Edibles Amazonian Arthropods
Ensuring food supply and availability, and consequently food safety, on a global scale represents one of the most important challenges of this century. The exploitation of local resources such as invertebrates has been extremely
relevant to contribute to food security. However, most research has focused on evaluating the nutritional potential of insects, with very few studies approaching other invertebrate groups. Three types of edible arthropods, the palm weevil larva (Rhynchophorus palmarum), the leaf-cutter ant (Atta laevigata), and the Goliath bird-eating spider (Theraphosa blondi) were studied in the Northern Amazon basin. Eight composite samples of each arthropod were collected and chemically analyzed following the procedures of the Associations of Official Analytical Chemists. Proximate composition analysis was performed to quantify moisture, crude fiber, protein, crude fat, and ash. The energy content was calculated by multiplying the mean values of crude protein by the Atwater factors. All three analyzed arthropod species have high nutritional potential compared with different types of insects and other invertebrates worldwide. Results of nutritional analysis on the three arthropods selected for this study revealed statistically significant differences in their chemical composition. Such values are similar to those of insects from orders Coleoptera and Hymenoptera, with variations of 13–77% in protein amounts, 10–66% in lipid amounts,
and 90–500 kcal/100 g in energy content per unit dry weight. We recommend that future research not only demonstrates the nutritional potential of edible arthropods, but also assesses the impact they have on food security.