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Title: Chemical evaluation of the Rhynchophorus ferrugineus larvae fed on different substrates as human food source
Authors: Cito, Annarita
Longo, Santi
Mazza, Giuseppe
Dreassi, Elena 
Francardi, Valeria
Keywords: Angiotensin-converting enzyme; cholesterol; fatty acids; red palm weevil; α-tocopherol
Issue Date: 2017
Project: None 
We investigated the chemical composition of the weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus larvae, traditionally used as human food in Asia and known worldwide as one of the most significant pest for palm trees. Total fat content and fatty acid composition were analyzed using standard methodologies in (1) weevil larvae reared on apple fruit slices and wild specimens collected from attacked (2) Phoenix canariensis and (3) Syagrus romanzoffiana palm trees. Total fat content was extremely high in all the specimens (ranged between 57.62 and 60.03% based on dry weight). Despite sharing the same prevalent fatty acids (myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, α-linoleic acid, and α-linolenic acid), fatty acid composition of the wild weevil larvae significantly differed from that of the specimens raised on apple fruit, due to the presence of other minor compounds. In general, a good balance between unsaturated fatty acids (∼53.68% of total fatty acids) and saturated fatty acids (∼43.41% of total fatty acids) and a low cholesterol content (74.61-152.32 mg/kg based on dry matter) were detected in all the specimens. Conversely, the weevil larvae did not represent a good source of α-tocopherol (14.17-26.22 mg/kg based on dry matter). The ability of the protein extracts obtained from the weevil larvae to inhibit in vitro the angiotensin-converting enzyme, the main enzyme involved in blood pressure regulation, was also investigated. To simulate gastrointestinal digestion process, protein extracts were hydrolyzed by the gastrointestinal enzymes. A significantly lower IC50 (0.588-0.623 mg/ml) was measured in all the protein extracts after enzymatic hydrolysis versus the corresponding crude protein extracts (3.270-3.752 mg/ml). Given that the weevil larvae are able to provide interesting benefits for human health, this study supports their use as human food not just in the native countries where they are traditionally consumed and farmed but also throughout the world.
ISSN: 1082-0132
DOI: 10.1177/1082013217705718
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