A cupcake made from insects may not sound a scrumptious idea for dessert but researchers at the University of Wageningen in Netherlands believe that insects could provide the best source of protein.

Cakes filled with edible insects in various attractive shapes were on display at the university on Monday to promote the idea of consuming insects to meet the needs of a protein-rich diet for a rising population, Reuters reported.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) says that some insects have as much protein as meat and fish. There are about 1,700 species considered edible for human consumption, including beetles, butterfly, moths, bees, wasp, ants, termites, bugs, grasshoppers and crickets.

In fact, insects are a delicacy in most parts of the world.

“For approximately 2.5 billion people, mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, eating insects is part of their common diets, in a similar way as eating meat or fish. A number of insect species are considered to be an exquisite meal such as barbecued palm weevil larvae or roasted termites,” says FAO.

Edible insects are an important source of protein in Central Africa, while in some countries such as Thailand, demand for edible insects increases with better living standards.

In co-organization with Wageningen University, FAO organized an expert consultation meeting on Assessing the Potential of Insects as Food and Feed in assuring Food Security in Rome early this year where nutritional value of insects was discussed extensively.

The scientists said that insects are a good source of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and are also a significant source of iron, zinc and vitamin A.

“This is important in light of the fact that some 2 billion people are deficient in zinc, 1 billion have iron-deficiency anaemia, and vitamin A deficiency affects some 250 million people, mainly young children and pregnant women in developing countries,” FAO said.

However, more research was needed on food hygiene standards and allergies caused by insects, it added.

Click Start to view the pictures and decide if you will consider these cakes a “food for thought.”