Valerie Stull, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute, was 12 when she ate fried ants during a trip to Central America with her parents. Today, her research goal is to promote insects as a mainstream meal.

Recent findings from a small clinical trial that Stull led were published in the journal Scientific Reports. They show that the fibers in crickets—which are high in protein—may help support the growth of good bacteria in the gut and reduce inflammation in the body.

“There is a lot of interest right now in edible insects,” Stull says. “They are gaining traction in Europe and in the United States as a sustainable, environmentally friendly protein source compared to traditional livestock.”