Global search for sustainable protein sources: Turning to insects, weeds and fungi to meet growing demand

International seek for sustainable protein sources: Turning to bugs, weeds and fungi to satisfy rising demand

In a latest overview printed within the journal Vitaminsresearchers discover “novel meals” resembling unconventional legume crops, aquatic weeds, edible mushrooms and bugs as different sources of protein to meat.

Research: Various protein sources and novel meals: Advantages, meals functions, and security issues. Picture credit score: nadianb/


Proteins are vital dietary parts for correct development and improvement of people, and in consequence, are thought-about constructing blocks of the physique.

The rise in human inhabitants and associated protein shortages warrant the identification of recent, pure and sustainable sources of protein as a substitute for meat. Some examples embrace invertebrate organisms resembling bugs, plant sources resembling underutilized legumes, unexploited aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, and fungal organisms.

Insect-based proteins have a excessive dietary content material and are enriched with proteins, important fatty acids and hint components. Moreover, these proteins are related to good water and oil retention capabilities, foaming, and emulsifying exercise.

Underutilized legumes possess phytochemical, therapeutic and dietary properties and might survive properly even in excessive weather conditions. Moreover, legume-derived proteins have good gelling skill to immobilize fats and entice water within the emulsion matrix.

Within the current overview, researchers study current knowledge on underutilized legumes, bugs, terrestrial and aquatic vegetation, and microalgae as different protein sources.

Various protein sources to meat

Various protein sources embrace underutilized legume crops, edible fungi, terrestrial and aquatic vegetation, microalgae and bugs.

Underused legumes embrace Latirus sativus L., Lupine Albo, Psophocarpus tetragonolobusAND Underground winery, whose meals formulations embrace microbial transglutaminase modified proteins, protein isolates, and flour/fermented meal/germinated seed meal. Functions of underutilized legume formulations embrace bioplastics, baked items, dairy merchandise, pasta and noodles, child meals, snack meals, breakfast cereals, and conventional meals.

Protein may also come from edible mushrooms resembling Agaricus bisporus, Lentinula edodes, Pleurotus species, e Flammulina velutipes. These mushrooms will be formulated as protein isolates, utilized in baked items, meat preparations, and dairy merchandise.

Lentinula edodes or shiitake edible mushroom

Protein-rich terrestrial edible vegetation embrace the Moringa oleifera (thigh) treeaquatic edible vegetation embrace Wolffia arrives AND Wolffia globosa (duckweed) and microalgae embrace Chlorella vulgaris AND Arthrospira platensis. Terrestrial vegetation will be formulated as protein isolates or fermented leaves to be used in conventional Asian dishes resembling Gundruk and Zhacai, microalgae as biomass or protein isolates, baked and dairy merchandise, and meat analogues.

Edible aquatic vegetation are related to security issues associated to excessive magnesium content material. The proteins may come from bugs resembling Migratory locust (migratory locust), Larva of Tenebrio motor (mealworm), Acheta domesticus (home cricket), e Alphitobius diaperinus larvae (lesser mealworm).

Yellow mealworm

Insect-based protein meals formulations licensed by the European Union can be found in frozen, dried and powdered varieties to be used in baked items, pasta merchandise, soups and soup concentrates, potato dishes , pulses and greens, canned meals/pulses and canned greens, snacks and cereal bars, salads, drinks, confectionary and meat preparations/analogs.

Properties of different proteins obtained from novel meals

Fungal species resembling Pleurotus cornucopiae, Agaricus bisporus, Pholiota adiposa, Grifola leafy, Macrocybe gigantea, Hypsizygus marmoreus, Ganoderma lucidumAND Cystidius pleurotus they’re wealthy in bioactive peptides that may inhibit angiotensin changing enzyme (ACE).

Bioactive peptides obtained from Cordyceps militaris, Cylindrical Agrocybe, Pleurotus eryngiiAND Pleurotus ostreatus have antifungal properties. Comparatively, these obtained from Cordyceps sinensis, Matsutake tricholomaAND Pleurotus eryngii possess antioxidant properties.

Calvazia caelata– AND Cyclocybe aegerita-derived peptides possess antiproliferative properties. Different peptides obtained from mushrooms present antimitogenic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, immunostimulant and antithrombotic properties and seem to inhibit ribonuclease and translation-associated enzymes. Edible bugs embrace Bombyx mori, silkworm pupae, Hermetia illucenscrickets and mealworms.

ACE inhibition has been demonstrated by Bombyx died, crickets, and mealworms. Moreover, crickets possess diuretic properties, whereas mealworms have hepatoprotective properties.

L. angustifoliaus, a protein-rich minor legume, can regulate insulin and glucose metabolism by inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP4), and likewise has hypolipidemic, ACE inhibitory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Minor legumes resembling L.Albus AND L. mutabilis are related to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, respectively.

As for aquatic and terrestrial vegetation, Moringa oleifera the leaves have ACE-inhibitory properties, whereas its seeds have antioxidant, α-glucosidase inhibitory and antimicrobial properties. Porphyra dioecious confirmed antioxidant exercise, ACE inhibitory exercise and DPP4 inhibitory exercise.

C. ellipsoid has ACE inhibitory, antioxidant, antiproliferative and anti inflammatory properties, whereas Pavlova Lutheri possesses anticancer properties. Stpyrulina platensis it exhibits ACE-I inhibitory, antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer and iron chelating properties.

Freshwater algae or spirulina


Primarily based on the overview findings, non-meat proteins could come from revolutionary or “novel” meals resembling underutilized legumes, land vegetation, aquatic vegetation, microalgae, and bugs. These protein sources are sometimes enriched with bioactive peptides with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer properties.

These new sources are environmentally sound methods to enhance protein consumption, stand up to harsh weather conditions, and will be seen as promising sources of protein. Nevertheless, their security must be evaluated, notably for insect-based sources that will comprise allergens and/or chemical contaminants resembling heavy metals and pesticides and grass pea-based proteins comprising neurotoxins.

Journal reference:

  • Quintieri, L., Nitruro, C., De Angelis, E., et al. (2023). Various protein sources and novel meals: Advantages, meals functions, and issues of safety. Vitamins. doi:10.3390/nu15061509

Written by

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Dr. based mostly clinical-radiological prognosis and administration of oral lesions and circumstances and related maxillofacial issues.


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