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What is Chitin?

ChitinPronounced:  kītin

Chitin is the exoskeleton of most arthropods – insects, spiders, and crustaceans.

Insects do not have an internal skeleton. Their exoskeleton, which is rigid and holds their body together, is made of chitin. Because it is rigid and hard, insects must shed their exoskeletons as they grow since it does not grow with them. Right after an insect molts, it is soft and vulnerable until the chitin hardens and becomes their armor once again.

Where human consumption is concerned, chitin is a valuable fiber that can easily be added to your diet and there are many reasons to do so.

Chitin is Healthy

Chitin is a valuable fiber and a prebiotic.

Probably the most discussed benefits of chitin is in gut microbiology. Prebiotics are nutrition for probiotics and chitin is a good source. In a simple sense, prebiotics promote the good colonic microflora while hindering growth of the bad.

This dietary fiber is important because it takes longer to digest and reaches further in to your colon than most other fiber. It is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties giving many potential health benefits.

Research is being done in areas of weight loss, liver and skin health, cholesterol and more.

How Can I Add Chitin to My Diet?

Adding chitin to your diet is easy, just add edible crickets to your salads, roasted mealworms to your omelettes and use insects powder like cricket powder for baking (make cricket flour), adding to shakes and generally sprinkling it on anything you want.

FUN FACT: Chitin is the second most abundant natural carbohydrate on earth after cellulose.

Haworth projection of chitin

Haworth projection of chitin
Cricket protein is similar to beef and salmon when it comes to quality protein. It has all of the essential amino acids and is packed with B vitamins with a perfect balance of an Omega 6:3 ratio of 3:1. In addition, crickets have more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach. The cricket’s chitin (exoskeleton) is a prebiotic just to top it off. ×
Crickets can be grown using less than 1% of the water needed for an equivalent amount of beef. Insects produce virtually no greenhouse gas when compared to beef and can be grown on bio-waste reducing the need to use land to grow their feed. Bugs are an environmentally friendly food source. ×
Insects need substantially less land than other livestock and can be grown vertically in an urban environment. They are grown humanely and can be grown just about anyplace in the world by households, small farmers and large commercial interests. Insects for food is trend whose time has come... again. ×
Current meat production is unsustainable and the more insects people eat, the less meat they will consume. If we make edible insects a trend in North America and Europe, the rest of the world will follow. ×