Long, lean and full of protein, frogmeat carries a reputation for exceptional energy and aphrodisiac benefits in some cultures. But is there any truth to frogs’ superfood reputation, or are they just another piece of meat?
Every year, billions of frogs disappear, falling prey not to fungal infection or habitat loss but to the massive, international market for frogmeat.
In Europe and in the occasional U.S. gourmet restaurant, people enjoy their frogs—rather, their frogs’ legs—as delicacies sautéed in butter and garlic. In places like East Asia, South Africa and South America, diners may consume their frogs in soups, as dried snacks, or even blended raw into warm smoothies with honey and aloe. There, frogs are often reputed to boost immune function, energy levels, and even sex drive (hence the nickname, “Peruvian Viagra,” for a pick-me-up drink of frog, bean broth, honey and aloe).
So, is there any truth to frogs’ superfood reputation, or are they just another piece of meat?
Nutritionally, frogs resemble chicken—high in protein and low in fat and calories. Frog meat provides a number of different vitamins and minerals, including selenium, copper, phosphorous, and riboflavin—but again, no more so than a slice of chicken breast.
In certain other ways however, frogs are unique. They secrete antimicrobial chemicals from their skin, many of which battle harmful pathogens like Candida yeast, and bacteria like staph (Staphylococcus aureus), and E. coli (Escherichia coli). The compounds allow the frogs to safely harbor various bacteria without infection—useful for creatures that live in multiple environments, says Alan Richmond, a professor of herpetology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. But as a result, he adds, if someone wanted to eat a raw frog (in say, a smoothie), they’d need to skin it first. So it’s unlikely that they’d receive any extraordinary health benefits from the skin secretions.
The interior of a frog, however, may have more to give. Some of the same chemicals found on a frogs’ skin also appear in his stomach, disinfecting their dinners before digestion. Preliminary research from Pukyong National University in South Korea also shows that bullfrog muscle contains an antioxidant on par with vitamins C and E in its ability to protect against oxidative damage. On the other hand, the quantity of these antioxidative and antibacterial compounds in a given raw frog is unlikely to match that which would be isolated, extracted, purified and packed into a pill.
In short, though a frog smoothie may provide a low-calorie, protein-rich snack, it’s unlikely to confer additional benefits beyond an equivalent chicken smoothie with a slice of lemon.« « Previous Post ~ Museum of Science…Fiction?| Next Post ~ Polio Strikes Back » »