Local foods: These health benefits of mopane worms will surprise you

Local foods: These health benefits of mopane worms will surprise you

We spoke to a dietician about the nutritional value of mopane worms.

Mopane worms
Mopane worms/ iStock

Mopane worms are loved and enjoyed by many people in African countries. According to brandsouthafrica.com, they are a local delicacy in the northern region of South Africa.

“Mopane worms are a good source of protein,” says dietician Sylven Masoga, who works in the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Limpopo.

“The protein offered by these species is of a high biological value, offering more than 55g per 100g of serving. Protein is important in the formation and repair of muscles,” explains Masoga.

Mopane worms contain high “amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. Iron is required for the haemoglobin component contained within the red blood cells. These red blood cells are responsible for, among other things, the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to tissues around the body. Low levels of haemoglobin predispose one to development of anaemia, a condition associated with fatigue and paleness,” says Masoga.

The Nutrition Week website advises that kids from six months of age should be given mopane worms as a source of iron. The site says the worms should be “cooked and pureed or minced”.

“During pregnancy, iron stores are built up in the baby from the mother’s stores and her diet. During breastfeeding some iron is supplied from breastmilk, but the baby also draws from his / her own stores of iron. At six months of age these stores are used up, so the iron must come from breast milk and animal foods,” states a report on their website.

Masoga says that calcium and phosphorus that are offered by mopane worms “are minerals required for proper functioning and strengthening of the bones and prevention of osteoporosis.”

Apart from offering proteins, iron, calcium, and phosphorus, Masoga says they also contain fiber.

“This fiber is required for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract preventing problems associated with constipation,” says Masoga.

 There are several ways mopane worms can be enjoyed. They can be consumed raw or cooked, and you can boil or fry them.

The video below shows three ways you can cook mopane worms. 

Image courtesy of iStock/ Rainer Lesniewski

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