If you think that the locust eaten only in some countries in Africa and the Middle East, then you are sadly mistaken. In fact, dishes regularly consume insects, and we are. And it's very useful. For several decades in food, medicine, cosmetics and even bandages and surgical thread (suture) is added chitin and its derivatives. Were the first to do it the Japanese, followed by an exotic fashion caught the Europeans and the Americans. Now to the chitin have joined us.
Those who do not truant school biology remembers that chitin — substance, from which the shell is made of cancer. However, chitin is not only the cancers. It is part of the exoskeleton of arthropods: crustaceans (crabs, shrimp, lobster) and insects (beetles, butterflies). Furthermore, chitin contained in the cell wall of yeast, algae and fungi.
Chitin put in food additives to improve its appearance, to enhance the taste and flavor or a preservative. Some prefer insects as food additives.
The benefits of such a diet:
- protects the body from radiation;
- inhibits the growth of cancer cells;
- prevents the development of heart attacks and strokes (enhances the effect of blood thinners);
- strengthens the immune system;
- regulates blood cholesterol (atherosclerosis, and helps with obesity);
- improves digestion (reducing gastric acidity, stimulates the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria);
- struggling with inflammatory processes;
- accelerates regeneration (recovery) tissues.
In wildlife chitin occurs so often that it takes on the prevalence of the second place among the organic matter (after cellulose). Some scientists even believe that in the near future, humanity will fully switch to chitin diet. So professor of polymer chemistry from North Carolina, Sam Hudson said recently that modern researchers "stand on the threshold of a brave new world, such as endless as the number of products that can be derived from chitin."
And it all started with the fact that back in 1811 director of the Botanical Garden in Nancy (France), Professor Henry Brakonno began studying the chemical composition of mushrooms. His attention was caught by a strange substance that is unable to dissolve sulfuric acid. This was the real chitin. It soon became clear that the isolated French scientist biopolymer is not only in fungi, but also in the wing cases of insects. And in 1823 the official name given substance. "Chitin" — from the Greek "chiton" — clothes. In 1859, chemists, getting rid of calcium and protein, obtained from chitin, a new substance— Chitosan — even more interesting than its predecessor. However, after the discovery of chitin as much as 100 years, no one other than narrow spetsalistam not interested.
About how useful chitin-chitosan health revealed only at the end of XX century. However, eating arthropods with chitinous cover people started a long time ago. Even in the Bible in the book of Leviticus mentions "clean" and "unclean" insects, that is, those who can or can not eat. Thus, for example, "pure" refers locusts and crickets. Locusts and wild honey fed John the Baptist in the wilderness. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentioned the Africans who are caught grasshoppers, dried it in the sun, pour milk and eat. It is believed that even the ancient Romans did not disdain locusts and honey, and the wife of the founder of Islam, Mohammed sent as a gift to a spouse whole trays of locusts.
Boiled ants served at dinner parties in the court of the Indian ruler Montezuma. The famous zoologist and explorer Alfred Brehm in his book "The Life of Animals" described how people of Sudan are caught and are happy to eat termites. Many people love to gastronomic Zhuchko-spider preserved to this day. In some countries in Africa and the Middle East in the shops and bazaars selling locusts, and it includes dishes from the menu at expensive restaurants. In the Philippines, there are many ways to cook crickets. In Thailand and the food are crickets, and caterpillars, and dragonflies, beetles and larvae. In Mexico, skunks eat bugs and grasshoppers.
It is interesting that the diet of the insects came up in the late XIX century. In 1885, the English explorer and naturalist Vincent Holt as opposed to vegetarianism and meat-eating began to call for entomophage — feeding on insects. Not knowing about the curative effects of chitin and chitosan, Holt nevertheless wrote: "Insects as a source of nutrients is much healthier and cleaner, because they feed exclusively on plant foods."
Get enough of insects, though it is difficult, but possible. The main thing (at least approximately) to calculate: how many grasshoppers, termites, bees, dung beetles have to catch that they weighed a total of 100 grams.
Comparative nutritional value in grams per 100 g of product:
- Grasshoppers: protein — 20.6; fat — 6.1
- Dung beetles:protein — 17.2; fat — 3.8
- Termites: Protein — 14.2; fat — 2.2
- Bees: Protein — 13.4; fat — 1.4
- Beef: Protein — 23.5, fats — 21.2
Entomophagy — after all, exotic. Today, in order to experience the healing effect of chitin (chitosan) is not necessary, overcoming squeamishness chew cockroaches and scarab. You can just go to the store and buy something diet.
Chitin in our country
The first drug based on chitin was created in the 1960s in the Soviet Union. He was supposed to protect people from ionizing radiation. All studies of new drugs were classified by the military, and its composition concealed even from doctors. After a series of experiments on mice, dogs and monkeys have shown that the drug helps animals survive the lethal dose. A little later, the scientists found that chitin and medications help to man, and that their properties are not limited to the radioprotective effect.
Chitin and its derivatives help fight cancers, allergies, high blood pressure, bowel diseases, etc. In addition, the inclusion of chitin contributes to a more prolonged action of other drugs.
Chitin and chitosan research is continuing. In Russia these members do, created in 2000, the Russian Chitin Society. It included not only the scientists involved in the study of chitin and chitosan, but also experts from other fields of science, industry, medicine and agriculture. In the West, the best hitinologam Brakonnovskaya awarded prize, named in honor of the discoverer of chitin Brakonno. In Russia such an award is named in honor of enthusiast research chitin — Academician Pavel Shorygina.