Locusts, like many insects, are an excellent source of protein. Species of locusts vary in protein content from about 50 percent of dry weight to almost 60 percent, making them denser in protein than cows. However, the protein of some species of locust is not considered complete because it is missing the essential amino acid methionine, which cannot be made by human beings. Overall, the protein nutritional value of locust is considered inferior to casein, which is the primary protein of dairy products.
The percentage of fat in desert locusts is lower than their percentage of protein, but still a reasonable source, at almost 12 percent, according to a 2001 edition of the “Journal of King Saud University.” The percentages of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are 44 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Palmiteic, oleic and linolenic acids are the most abundant fatty acids. However, the researchers noted that the cholesterol content in locusts is high, about 286 milligrams per 100 grams, which is higher than that found in meat or poultry.
Locusts also contain adequate amounts of iodine, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, as well as traces of calcium, magnesium and selenium. Carbohydrate levels are very low in locusts, which makes them a good candidate for Atkins and Paleo types of diets. Some people describe cooked locust as similar to smoky flavored bacon and reasonably tasty.