Food Value of Mealworm Grown on Acrocomia aculeata Pulp Flour

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 14;11(3):e0151275. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151275. eCollection 2016.


Insects have played an important role as human food throughout history, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A good example of edible insects is the mealworm, Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus, 1758 (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae), which are eaten in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. This species is easily bred in captivity, requiring simple management. The bocaiuva (Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd) is an abundant palm tree found in the Brazilian Cerrado, providing fruits with high nutritional value. The aim of this work was to determine the chemical composition of T. molitor grown in different artificial diets with bocaiuva pulp flour. The nutritional composition, fatty acid composition, antioxidant activity, trypsin activity and anti-nutritional factors of larvae were analyzed. The results showed that mealworms grown on artificial diet with bocaiuva are a good source of protein (44.83%) and lipid (40.45%), with significant levels of unsaturated fatty acids (65.99%), antioxidant activity (4.5 μM Trolox/g of oil extracted from larvae) and absence of anti-nutritional factors. This study indicates a new source of biomass for growing mealworms and shows that it is possible to breed mealworms in artificial diet with bocaiuva flour without compromising the nutritional quality of the larvae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomass*
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis
  • Flour
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Larva / chemistry
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Magnoliopsida*
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Tenebrio* / chemistry
  • Tenebrio* / growth & development


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated

Grants and funding

Support was provided by Masters scholarship (Benefitted: AVA): Fundação de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento do Ensino, Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Mato Grosso do Sul (FUNDECT) []. Additional financial support was provided for equipments (Benefitted: EJSA): Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) []. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.