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What Is the Healthiest Meat?

Thanks to the Chinese space program, scientists in Beijing recently published a formal nutritional analysis of what may be one of the healthiest animals to eat, silkworm caterpillars. As I profile in my 2-min video Good Grub, they appear to have more arginine that soybeans, more zinc than pumpkin seeds, and more protein than snail meat. One pound of powdered worms gets you all the vitamin B12 you need for the day. The big nutritional selling point, though, is their low saturated fat content.

Farming insects is also less wasteful than farming other animals. Whereas we waste about 90% of nutrients when we feed grains to cows, less than half the nutrition of edible plants is wasted when we route them through bugs. Okay, but how do they taste? Like octopus, one technical review notes. What’s the downside? See my video pick above.

The American space program is going in a different direction. NASA decided on a vegan menu for Mars, realizing, perhaps, that there are†safer and†cheaper sources of†vitamin B12 than a daily pound of powdered worms. What about arginine? Worms, whale meat, pork rinds, and what else? See my video Fat Burning Via Arginine. Though sourcing protein from plants is preferable, maggots have been tapped for their potential to improve the safety of the food supply, see my video Maggot Meat Spray.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation†Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: Sifu Renka / Wikimedia Commons

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at


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6:17AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Good one Barb D. You don't really expect a realistic article on the benefits of non-factory farmed organic meat from Dr. Greger did you? I do have fabulous bridges for sale. He is vegan so... no meat is good meat even organically farmed meat without all those nasty antibiotics and growth hormones along with GMO feed. As for Mars...won't space travel entail vacuum packed foods as space is going to be at a premium when going to Mars. There won't be any warp speeds for some time just yet so it will be slow going. If anyone offers me tarantulas...they had better be crispy. I hear they eat them elsewhere. Go figure, and then maggots are rather small...there are much larger protein filled grubs that are eaten elsewhere in the world. They would also have to have a crispy crunch.

4:18PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

When I saw this title just for a moment I thought...could it be?....on Care?!...hopes dashed again!

4:09PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

So Happy To Be Vegan.

2:32PM PST on Nov 4, 2012

or just don't eat meat.

12:38PM PST on Nov 4, 2012


3:59PM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

The FDA estimates that Americans eat one to two pounds of insect parts per year without knowing it. The allowable number of insect parts, rodent hairs, rodent feces and other contaminants is quite high. Anyone who has harvested and handled any grain is aware that it is impossible to keep the animal parts out. Eating organic fruits and vegetables will allow you to injest all manner of animal material.

11:59AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Worms, huh? Studying the healthiest animals to eat seems to forget that this is not too healthy for the animal, is it?

11:28AM PDT on Oct 28, 2012

Chinese study. Surprised they weren't studying the nutritional value of cats. I grew up in Korea and there, it was dogs. Now the Chinese are telling us how awesome it is that you can get the daily recommended amount of B12 by eating only a pound of worms a day. Thank you, China, for your contribution to life on this planet, but I'll stick with nutritional yeast.

9:26PM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

Culturally inhibited.

5:51PM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

Without a doubt, we eat bugs, of varying sizes, in most of our food. We just don't know or see them.

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