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Nutritional Value and Consumption of Black Ants (Carebara vidua Smith) from the Lake Victoria Region in Kenya

Author(s): M.A. Ayieko | J.N. Kinyuru | M.F. Ndong’a | G.M. Kenji

Journal: Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology
ISSN 2042-4868

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 39;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Black ants | Carebara vidua | edible insects | ethnomedicine | nutritional value

The edible insects of the Lake Victoria region which provided food and medicine, have suffered the effects of mismanaged environment. Our case study of Carebara vidua Smith (black ant) which is an endangered insect currently threatened with extinction due to human’s activities, have provided unique source of protein and medicinal value. C. vidua is an endangered species of Heminoptera. This paper discusses the nutritional value and medicinal potential of the black ant. It is one of the most sought after edible insects because of its nutritional and medicinal value. The samples were collected from Kisumu and Siaya counties along the Lake Victoria region. Standard nutrient analysis methods were used to determine the nutritional value. The insect has between 39.79 to 44.64% protein and about 42.07 to 49.77% fat content depending on the body part. The insect is also rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. From the fatty acid profile, the edible insects recorded high content of Palmitic, Oleic and Linoleic acids. No Linolenic acid was found in the samples analysed. The elderly Luos of Kenya collect and consume the black ants to manage several body ailments probably due to the essential nutrients found in the insect. C. vidua Smith is fairly similar to Polyrhachis vicina Roger in China which has been processed and commercialised as medicinal to manage several chronic diseases. Further research is needed to highlight the potential medicinal value of C. vidua Smith in Kenya and to save the insect from total disappearance.

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