NUTRITIONAL POTENTIAL OF LONGHORN GRASSHOPPER (RUSPOLIA DIFFERENS) CONSUMED IN SIAYA DISTRICT, KENYA
Keywords:Nutritional potential, Ruspolia differens, longhorn grasshopper, public health
The longhorn grasshopper (Ruspolia differens) forms a major part of the food culture of communities in the Lake Victoria Region of East Africa. The aim of this research was therefore to assess the nutritional potential of this insect to the human diet in the region in combating nutritional deficiencies that are of public health concern. The green and brown coloured grasshoppers were studied. They were found to contain a protein content of 37.1% and 35.3%, fat content of 48.2% and 46.2%, ash content of 2.8% and 2.6%, a fibre content of 3.9% and 4.9% for the green and brown grasshoppers respectively. Among the macro minerals, potassium (K) was the most abundant with a value of 370.6 mg/100g and 259.7 mg/100g, phosphorus (P) 140.9 mg/100g and 121.0 mg/100g while calcium (Ca) levels showed overall means of 27.4 mg/100g and 24.5 mg/100g in the green and brown grasshopper respectively. Iron (Fe) was the most abundant among the trace minerals with a value of 16.6 mg/100g and 13.0 mg/100g while zinc showed a mean value of 17.3 mg/100g and 12.4 mg/100g in the green and brown grasshopper respectively. The insects showed a retinol concentration of 2.1 μg/g and 2.8 μg/g, α-tocopherol 201.0 μg/g and 152.0 μg/g, riboflavin 1.2 mg/100g and 1.4 mg/100g, 2.1 mg/100g and 2.4 mg/100g of niacin for the green and brown grasshopper respectively. Lipid analysis revealed that the insects’ oil comprised of high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, 89.4% and 84.3% neutral lipids, 7.4% and 9.3% phospholipids, 3.2% and 6.4% glycolipids for green and brown grasshopper respectively. These values suggest that Ruspolia differens has potential for exploitation to combat nutritional deficiencies that are of public health concerns. The insect could form a base for new food products of considerable nutritive value.