Researchers are developing a new kind of margarine that could appeal to environmentally aware, health-conscious consumers—just as long as they aren’t too squeamish. The Washington Post reports that a group of Dutch scientists have turned yellow mealworms into edible liquid and solid fats, which could eventually be used to replace vegetable oils and margarine.

In an article published in INFORM Magazine, researchers argue that mealworm fat could offer a healthier, more sustainable alternative to traditional margarine. Mealworms produce few greenhouse gases, need no drinking water, and can subsist on vegetable waste streams, making them easy to cultivate and environmentally friendly. Solid and liquid mealworm fats are also healthier than many other edible fats and oils—they have no trans fats, and solid mealworm fat is low in saturated fat.

Researchers have already converted mealworms into edible fats and oils using a process called dry fractionation, which involves heating and cooling fat mixtures at different temperatures. However, they note that more research is still needed before mealworm margarine hits grocery store shelves. Researchers still have questions about the mealworm’s fatty acid profile—the exact types of molecules in mealworm fat—which require additional experiments. Plus, they haven’t yet tasted their own mealworm margarine concoction. So while mealworm oil might be a sustainable alternative to margarine, it remains to be seen whether it makes a tasty replacement. 

[h/t Washington Post]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.