Functional Foods Don’t Really Bug Me

in Tips and Tricks

functional-foodsIf you’d asked me five years ago if I would consume insects to get more protein in my diet, you would have received a look of sheer terror in return. My tastebuds have become a bit more adventurous since then, and it’s something I would actually try now. It seems like most of us are lacking some vital nutrients these days, and I would gladly get my daily dose from a food source – even if a few chirping critters are involved. Did you know, the average adult may need at least 50 grams of protein per day, depending on body mass? Many of us may not be getting the amount of protein we need, unless we are training for Ironman or happen to be professional wrestlers.

When I dug a little, I found out crickets actually offer ridiculous amounts of protein (among a sizable list of vitamins & minerals), and their backers are trying to secure a spot in a category known as functional foods: those having claims of added health benefits. There are currently two companies marketing their cricket protein bars: Chapul and EXO, Inc., and it’s likely more insect-based protein products will crawl to the surface (sorry, couldn’t help myself) if people can get over their aversion to eating “bugs”.

Though added protein is high on the list in functional foods, many people are also reaching for vitamin-dense foods that contain omega-3’s, calcium, antioxidants, and probiotics – ingredients that go far beyond sustenance. Food manufacturers are taking notice that more consumers are eating for health these days, and in turn seeing a need they’d like to fulfill.

Other food producers are also jumping on the functional bandwagon, but not going the route of the insect. General Mills recently released Cheerios Protein, boasting 11 grams of protein per serving (upon adding milk). Restaurants like Taco Bell are also ramping up the protein, citing that people are interested in foods that they claim give them increased energy. After a test run last year, the restaurant chain rolled out its new Power Platform of protein boosting burritos and bowls nationally this week, eventually hoping to add protein-charged foods to its expanded breakfast menu, launched earlier this year.

With many people looking for new ways to maximize their nutrition, it’s likely that other food manufacturers will follow suit and continue looking for ways to incorporate functional ingredients into their products. I do a fair bit of cooking, but I don’t think I’ll be making homemade cricket flour just yet.

What do you think of functional foods that have added vitamins and nutrients? Would you try cricket bars if it made getting your daily nutrients easier? Let us know your thoughts!

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