Huhu grubs: Protein-packed beetles once a staple 'superfood' among Māori are making a comeback

For those of us looking to return to a healthier diet after an indulgent Christmas and New Year, huhu grubs could be a food worth considering.

Scientists have discovered the beetles pack a punch in protein, are high in minerals and could even be considered a sort of superfood.

Found burrowed deep within a log, consuming a wriggling grub for good health isn't the first thing that comes to mind. 

For centuries huhu grubs, described as having a nutty flavour, were a staple among Māori - and they could be making a comeback as more sustainable food sources are needed.

"There is an interest globally in identifying new sources of food and also foods that are nutritious because of an expected growth in world population," said Otago University senior lecturer Dr Dominic Agyei.

Otago University scientists harvested wild huhu grubs from a Dunedin pine forest, then washed and freeze-dried them before turning them into a powder and analysing them during four different development stages of their life cycle.

They have up to 58.4 percent fat, and 30.5 percent protein - that's more protein than beef, lamb, chicken, soy and chickpeas.

The only catch is someone would need to eat about 75 huhu grubs to get the same amount of protein they'd get from eating 230g of beef. 

But the grubs pack a punch when it comes to nutrients.

"[They have] potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium - it also has less toxic minerals," explained Ruchita Rao Kavle, lead author and food science PhD student.

That makes them good for people with deficiencies.

"If we want to commercialise them in the future, we can do it knowing the basic profile and we can powder it and add it into pasta or muffin," said Rao Kavle.

These wriggling little grubs could be appearing on your restaurant menu sooner than you think. 

"They are healthy and we should consider them to be a part of our daily diet," said Rao Kavle.

As long as you can find them.