SNAILS AND NUTRITION
Snails have been an integral part of human diet since the Paleolithic age. It was one of the most favorite dishes during the Minoan period while it still remains today one of the main dishes of the Mediterranean diet. Research shows that the higher life average of the Cretans is attributable to their diet which mainly consists of snails and virgin olive oil. Apart from Greece, snails are also considered a “gourmet” dish in French, Spanish and Italian cuisine.
Snails are particularly loved by sommeliers as they go exceptionally well with wine. They also have high nutritional value and fewer calories than other foods within the same category such as, for example, meat or poultry.
|Nutritional Value Comparison|
|Snails |||Veal |||Chicken |||Fish|
|Lipids %||0,5- 0,8||11,5||12||1,5|
|Kcal (on 100 gr)||60-90||163||120||70|
As it can be easily observed from the table above, 100 grs of ready to eat snails contain only 60-90 calories. Protein is also within very high levels (10-16%) whereas the fat levels are particularly low, in the region of 0.5-1%. Snails are also rich in amino acids, a very important element for the human diet.
The fat of the snails is rich in omega 3 which is, in turn, is very beneficial to good health. Among other things the most famous contributions of omega 3 are in the reduction of triglycerides and stroke, cardiovascular and kidney disease prevention. It has also been proved very effective against arthritis, muscular pains and depression.
Snails are also a rich source of vitamins, especially those of the B complex such as Niacin (B3), Riboflavin (B2), B6, B12, as well as Vitamin E. Niacin is a good example of a vitamin with high contribution to the effective operation of the digestive, cardiovascular and cognitive system.
Snails are also significant source of minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus , Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium. Calcium and Phosphorus are very important for bones development and strengthening.
Snails are also an important source of trace elements like iron and selenium. The selenium is contained at 27,4 μg /100 grs and has high antioxidant properties against cancer and cardiovascular disease , reinforcing the immune system and improving the right functionality of thyroid gland.
It seems that these beneficial properties of snails were well known in ancient Greece. First Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), followed by Plinios (23-79 A.C.) and Galinos, was recommending snails as a cure of stomach pain, bleeding, dropsical, hernia etc.
Today many snail curing properties have been proved scientifically. The contained amino acids help the recreation of the digestive system’s damagedtissue. The omega 3 fatty acids contribute to cholesterol reduction. The Calcium and the Iron help in the tuberculosis and skeleton disease (rachitis) cure.
Additionally the snail slime is used in the Pharmaceutical and the Cosmetics sector for skin regeneration and moisturizing as well as for wound healing. The latter is a property well known from 4th century B.C.
Globall, 25 % of the snails annual production is used in Food consumption while 75% in the Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics industry.