Insects have been a part of the human diet for centuries and are currently consumed by humans in many parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa. Due to the current food insecurity situation prevailing in many developing countries and future challenges of feeding over 9 billion people in 2050, lately these have received wide attention as a potential alternate major source of proteins.

The FAO has postulated that the demand for meat and other protein sources is expected to rise tremendously by 2050. According to Prof. Arnold van Huis of Wageningen University-Insect rearing could be one of the ways to enhance food and feed security.

Recently, researchers of icipe (a renowned African insect research institute) in Nairobi, Kenya have discovered very important sterols present in the gut of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria that have beneficiary effects on human health specifically the heart.

Plant sterols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and possess powerful cholesterol-lowering properties. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.

Desert locusts have been recorded in the past of devastating several hectares of vegetation thereby underpinning food insecurity. Millions of Euros have been spent on producing insecticides use to curb their destructive behavior, nevertheless taking a toll on the environment and income of its users.

Additionally, the locust has a rich nutritional composition in terms of proteins, fatty acids and minerals which is very comparable to the traditional meat, pork and poultry consumed worldwide.

It is postulated that these locusts are capable of ingesting plant sterols from their vegetable diets and metabolizing and amplifying them into an array of sterols that have far-reaching health benefits.

So rather that obtain a plant-sterol food supplement that is more expensive, insect researchers are suggesting we eat such less expensive, environmentally friendly, protein-rich locusts.

The Desert Locust is one of about twelve species of grasshopper which are able to change their habits and behavior when their populations become large. When their numbers increase, they become gregarious and migrate in dense groups. These groups are called swarms

However, its beneficial health effects highlighted above, care needs to be taken as more studies need to be carried out regarding the safety of these insects as food.