Edible Worms and Their Nutritional Benefits: The Nigerian Perspective

by Oke Ibodhe

Edible worms refer to different insect species, specifically worms. Worms’ shape and movement can easily draw your attention. They have a unique, compelling view, leaving you in admiration. 

There are several types of edible worms with each type having its peculiar appearance and special flavour. For example, mealworms have a segmented body with six legs. Meanwhile, some worms have distinct body parts.

In this guide, we will expose you to everything you need to know about edible worms as well as their health benefits.

An Overview of Edible Worms in Nigeria 

In Nigeria, certain edible worms are consumed not only for their special flavours but also for their nutritional benefits. An example is the palm weevil larvae, commonly known as “red palm weevil larvae” because they are often found in the trunks of palm trees. In the Niger Delta of Nigeria, these worms are hawked along express roads for travellers to buy. 

They can serve as snacks on the go or as a full meal. In Warri, edible insects can be roasted and eaten with kop-kop garri (crunchy snacks made from cassava flour) and then washed down with a glass of chilled fresh palm wine. The delectable taste can make your day. 

Edible worms can also be used to prepare soups and stew. They go by different names in various regions of Nigeria where they consume insects. In Delta, the Isoko people call it “Odo,” the Benin people call it “Orhu,” while the Esan people call it “Okhin.” In Bayelsa, edible worms are generally known as “Bayelsa suya” because they are usually grilled and packaged on sticks. 

This delicacy can be eaten raw, boiled, fried or roasted. No matter how you choose to prepare it, there is always a distinct flavour you get from its taste. 

Read also: Amazing Health Benefits of Moringa to Nigerians

6 Types of Edible Worms

There are many types of edible worms. Some are consumed by humans while others are used as feed for animals. These worms come in different shapes and sizes. They can be found in several parts of the world. 

Below are 6 common types of edible worms. They include:

  1. Waxworm

Waxworm larvae are caterpillars with soft bodies. It has a creamy-white colour and dark markings. These worms are commonly used as live bait for fishing. In some cultures, it is often fried and used in dishes or as a snack.

  1. Ant larvae

Ant larvae are small and legless. They appear translucent. They are either white or pale yellow. This type of worm is consumed in some cultures, often as part of traditional dishes.

  1. Bamboo worms

This type of worm is like caterpillar larvae. It has a brown, segmented body. Just like other edible worms, it can be eaten as a snack.

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  1. Silkworms

These are caterpillars with a segmented body and it is covered in fine, short hairs. They are seen in either white or light yellow. It can be boiled or stir-fried as food.

  1. Mealworms

These worms are golden-brown and also segmented like silkworms. They are commonly used in cooking. This type of worm can be baked or ground into flour.

  1. Red palm weevil larvae

This is a very common type of worm found in Nigeria. Commonly known as “Sago worms,” the red palm weevil larvae are seen on palm trees or coconut trees. They have a reddish-brown head and a creamy-white, cylindrical body. 

They are consumed in many parts of Nigeria and Southeast Asia. Sago worms can be grilled, fried or boiled. Just like edible insects, the sago worm is packed with a lot of nutrients that benefit our health. If you are bold enough to include this nutritious insect in your meal, be rest assured that you are safe.

Read also: Dairy Products and Your Diet: Types, Benefits and Side Effects

Nutritional Benefits of Edible Worms

  1. They are proteinous

Protein helps in the maintenance and repair of our body tissues and it is important for our body’s growth. The sago worm is a very good source of protein for the body. In communities where other sources of protein may be difficult to get or expensive to buy, edible insects can be used as replacements for common proteinous foods.

  1. They supply vitamins and minerals

These are two very important nutrients the body needs to function right. They play important roles in energy metabolism and improve our immune functions and overall health. Examples of these nutrients that are found in edible worms are; vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Read also: What are Food Allergies? Do Nigerians Have Them?

  1. They are sources of healthy fats

The larvae contain healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are important for various functions of the body, including brain health.

  1. Aids digestion and lower blood sugar 

The sago worm can aid digestion. It can also help to lower blood sugar and fight certain infections. It gives stronger bones and teeth. 

Other edible insects in Nigeria include ants, grasshoppers and termites. These insects contain nutrients like antioxidants which help the body combat stress and are essential for reducing the risk of chronic diseases and promoting overall well-being, potential unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and fibre.

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Conclusion

The nutritional benefits of edible worms may vary based on factors such as the type of the worm, its diet, and the environment in which it is raised. 

It is important to note that, just like every other food we eat, worms can also become contaminated by the environment where they grow. Thus, ensure that these worms are collected from clean and safe environments to avoid potential health risks.

Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

About Author

Oke Ibodhe
Oke Ibodhe
Passionate content/technical writer with a flair for words and a keen eye for detail. Specializes in producing compelling content that captivates readers. Dedicated to delivering high-quality writing content with a commitment to meeting client needs and exceeding expectations.

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