Eating Snail meat or Escargot is a delightful treat in many parts of the world. They taste great and crunchy, are a beauty to behold and nutritious. Snail meat can be cooked in various ways depending on your taste.
However have you ever wondered what your method of preparing snails implies? Are snails beneficial to the health of everyone? Let’s take a look!
Snail meat taste is divinely unique as they have a meaty texture but moist on the inside and take on the flavour of whatever sauce they’re cooked in. Traditional and continental methods of cooking snails differ according to geographic location.
Eating snail meat or having anything to do with snails is still a taboo and forbidden tradition in some parts of the world despite civilization. In these places, they believe snails mean slow progress or results in drooling children. All these are still not enough reasons for others to find snail meat a sensational.
Snails are seen as pests in some other parts of the world as they wreck havoc to plants, crops and fruits. Their slime also leaves a trail on plants and vegetables that they crawl over. The sight of a snail may also be scary as in the case of the Giant African Land Snail (GALS) which is really big.
Nutritional Value Of Snail
Snail meat contains about the same protein content available in beef (cow meat) and pork (pig meat) but lower fat content making them preferred over the former. Snails also contain iron, calcium, vitamins and other minerals.
Iron helps the red blood cells to take oxygen to other parts of the body and keeps the hair, nails, and skin healthy.
Calcium keeps the body’s bones strong and reduces the risk of developing bone-related problems such as osteoporosis.
Vitamin A keeps the immune system ready to fight off diseases and strengthens the eyes. It also helps the body cells to grow.
Escargot or other snail dishes are served in various restaurants, hotels, eateries, joints as an appetizer or protein with other food (such as rice dish). Snails are also available in supermarkets, grocery stores.
Preparation Methods Of Snail Meat
In many parts of the world, including France, Germany, and Portugal, snails are actually a delicacy fried and cooked in butter hors d’oeuvre. In India, snail meat is fried in an Indian dish called sate kakul.
In Africa, snail meats are prepared in many ways for instance escargots a’lAlgeroise in Algeria where the snail meats are cooked in their shells after processing them, and peppered snails in Nigeria. Snail meat pepper soup is also a delight to the taste buds.
But behind all the garlicky and peppered goodness, lies the question: Is there any nutritional value? For instance, snail meat contains low fat but when we fry, we add the fat to the meal!
Let’s briefly take a look at two major Nigerian snail meat recipes in preparing snail meat delicacies so that together, we can make more informed decisions on whether to add this food to our diet or change our methods to retain the natural health benefits snail meat has.
Nigerian Peppered Snails
- Vegetable oil
- Seasoning cubes
Nigerian Snail Meat Pepper Soup
- Vegetable oil
- Corn flour
- Seasoning cubes
From both recipes, it is observed that the use of vegetable oil (although in varying quantity) which is a source of fat is required as well as seasoning cubes. These are to be used in minute quantities so that we do not lose the essence why snail meat is a better alternative to other red meats.
Snails are therefore best taken in their raw boiled state, added to already prepared sauce; however, care should also be taken to avoid getting infections when the meat is not properly processed.
Health Benefits Of Eating Snail Meat
Snails were believed to cure everything from a common cough to tuberculosis in ancient times. Fast forward to this age, they’re eaten and enjoyed more as a tasty appetizer and protein source than for any other reason. Health benefits in eating snail include but not limited to the following:
Improved Heart Functions
Snails are good source of Omega-3 fatty acids known to help improve the heart functions. Omega-3 also reduces the risk of having heart infections or dying of heart diseases. They also lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and an overall improved heart. Fish are the other source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Improve Blood Level
The iron content of snail meat makes it a good source of relieving symptoms of anemia (lack of red blood cells). Iron-deficient anemia gives symptoms which include fatigue, lack of physical strength, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Eating snails may help to relieve some of these symptoms by treating the underlying cause. ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ can be said about snail too; ‘a snail serving of healthy snails contains about 22% of the recommended daily allowance of iron’!
Potential Health Risks of Eating Snail Meat
Too much of everything is said to be bad. However, in the case of eating snail meat, the potential health risks do not come from the snails themselves but from the method of processing and preparing.
Just like snail meats are good for proper heart functions so does some cooking method increase the risk of having heart related problems. Snails have less fat and cholesterol but they are mostly cooked in fat rich sauces for enhanced taste, presentation or appearance.
Most of these cooking oils are extremely rich in fat which is the enemy of the heart. These fats are stored in the arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The arteries become clogged over time and disrupt the functions of the heart leading to stroke or heart attacks.
Preparing and consuming these snails in fat-rich sauces reintroduces the risk of developing heart disease or other health problems whether immediate or later in life.
Rat Lungworm Disease
Snails get infected with the rat lung worm parasite when they have contact with rat faeces. Man is therefore infected through the eating of raw snails resulting in rat lungworm disease.
Although this disease is rare, there were reports of the rat lungworm infection in Hawaii in 2018. Symptoms of rat lungworm disease include:
Fortunately, this can be prevented if the snails are properly processed and cooked before they are consumed.
Snail meat remains a healthy alternative to red meats as they contain less fat and are rich in iron and other minerals. This nutritional value can be reduced to the minimal and even result in potential health problems during the processing and preparation methods.
We should not downplay the benefits of this delicacy by adding fat-rich sauces or other seasonings. Let’s find the best way to enjoy these animals without losing the nutritional value!
Do you have a snail meat delicacy recipe that retains the nutritional value and still tasty, kindly share with us in the comment section and lets enjoy snail meat together!