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What Is the Healthiest Meat?

February 28, 2013 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 7 Comments

Thanks to the Chinese space program, scientists in Beijing recently published a formal nutritional analysis of what may be one of the least harmful animals to eat, silkworm caterpillars. As I profile in my 2-min video Good Grub, they appear to have more arginine than soybeans, more zinc than pumpkin seeds, and more protein than snail meat. One pound of powdered worms gets you all the vitamin B12 you need for the day. The big nutritional selling point, though, is their low saturated fat content.

Farming insects is also less wasteful than farming other animals. Whereas we waste about 90% of nutrients when we feed grains to cows, less than half the nutrition of edible plants is wasted when we route them through bugs. Okay, but how do they taste? Like octopus, one technical review notes. What’s the downside? See my 2-min. video Bug Appétit: Barriers to Entomophagy.

The American space program is going in a different direction. NASA decided on a vegan menu for Mars, realizing, perhaps, that there are safer and cheaper sources of vitamin B12 than a daily pound of powdered worms. What about arginine? Worms, whale meat, pork rinds, and what else? See my 2-min. video Fat Burning Via Arginine. Though sourcing protein from plants is preferable, maggots have been tapped for their potential to improve the safety of the food supply, see my 2-min. video Maggot Meat Spray.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2014 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, and From Table to Able.

Image credit: Sifu Renka / Wikimedia Commons

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Dr. Michael Greger

About Michael Greger M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

View all videos by Michael Greger M.D.

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  • Zostar

    Again, I do not understand why you are promoting meat?

    • Mmmeat

      What’s to understand? Bugs can/do provide a form of nutrition. Let the facts speak for themselves maybe?

    • Michael Roth

      The best scientists are those who present all the facts, regardless of personal bias.

    • Thea

      Personally, I think this subject is the opposite of promoting meat. My thoughts (if I were still eating animals) would be something like: If eating bugs is the best I can do in terms of health and eating animals, then maybe I’ll just skip the animals.

  • B

    Well, the heading captured my attention, though I have no interest in eating bugs! I’ve been plant-based for 5 years and love it…lots of health improvements! However, I have many friends who are in poor health who just won’t try the plant-based diet, despite my well intentioned and probably annoying evidence-based comments and references. They call me “the food nazi” hahaha! I don’t dislike meat at all and my mouth waters when i smell bacon and barbeque…for me it’s all about the health. I also do health & wellness coaching and would like to have more information on what really are the safest meats to eat, in terms of toxins, other than those generated by cooking at high temperatures. Many clients would still follow a primarily plant-based diet, but want to add smaller amounts of “clean” meats as in The China Study and diets followed by other healthy populations. This wouldn’t be about necessarily reversing heart disease…just losing weight, improving lab results, and generally improving health.. Please direct me to any data on tested toxin levels in various meats; “natural” or organic meats, clean farm raised fish, etc. Think I’ll go grill a nice filet of seitan now ;)

  • Kate

    If they’re so high in protein, what makes them better than other animal protein, which is apparently so detrimental?

  • stompic

    Hello,
    I know your posted that 1 year ago but may I point out that this website is about nutrition and medicine which are scientific fields? This means that religion hasn’t got anything to do with this website.
    I could point countless of evidences to show that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all nonsense, starting with the false translations of Hebrew and Greek texts. But I won’t, since this isn’t the point of this website. Believe what you won’t, I personally don’t care, as long as you don’t do harm to anybody. By the way, I hope you get yourself educated and informed about nutrition and I wish a good day to you sir.

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