Snail, also called abalone, escargot, caracoles, queen conch, periwinkle snail, tsalingaria, ass’s ear shell, sea-ear, ormer, paua, and marine snail, are mollusks found in sea coasts, fresh water, and land. For thousands of years snails have been used for human food consumption and their shell for jewelry. Snails belong to about 100 species and depending on location different species are used as source of food. Commonly eaten snails include: Helix pomatia and Helix aspersa. In the western world snail meals are generally known as Escargot—a French word for snail.

Snail/Escargot/Abalone as a Food for Humans

Snail is reared in commercial farms for its meat and shell. Snail meat is a delicacy in Asian cuisine, Japanese and Chinese in particular. The French delight escargot as an appetizer. where as in the Americas and Australia, where it is commonly also called abalone, it is consumed also as main meal. In Africa, such as Nigeria and South Africa, land snail called Giant African Snail is also a traditional food. Snail recipes vary from cuisine to cuisine. Studies on the nutritional value of snail have reported that snail is high in protein but low in fat contents. It is estimated that snail is 15% protein, 2.4% fat and about 80% water. This makes snail healthy alternative food for people with high protein low fat diet requirements. Besides, snail is high in health benefiting essential fatty acids such as linoleic acids and linolenic acids. A study on a snail species in Brazil estimated that 75% of the fat in snail is unsaturated fatty acids. That is 57% polyunsaturated fatty acids, 15.5% of monounsaturated fatty acids, and 23.25% of saturated fatty acids.

Nutrional value of snail

Table: list of nutrients and their content in raw, snail. Nutrient values and weights are for edible portion. The following nutrient data is obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Standard Reference, release 19 (2006).

Nutrients
Units of measurement for nutrients
Nutrient content per 100 grams of snail
Water
g
79.20
Energy
kcalorie
90
Energy
kj
377
Protein
g
16.10
Total lipid (fat)
g
1.40
Ash
g
1.30
Carbohydrate, by difference
g
2.00
Fiber, total dietary
g
0.0
Sugars, total
g
0.00
Minerals
Calcium, Ca
mg
10
Iron, Fe
mg
3.50
Magnesium, Mg
mg
250
Phosphorus, P
mg
272
Potassium, K
mg
382
Sodium, Na
mg
70
Zinc, Zn
mg
1.00
Copper, Cu
mg
0.400
Selenium, Se
mcg
27.4
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
mg
0.0
Thiamin
mg
0.010
Riboflavin
mg
0.120
Niacin
mg
1.400
Vitamin B-6
mg
0.130
Folate, total
mcg
6
Folic acid
mcg
0
Folate, food
mcg
6
Folate, DFE
mcg_DFE
6
Vitamin B-12
mcg
0.50
Vitamin B-12, added
mcg
0.00
Vitamin A, IU
IU
100
Vitamin A, RAE
mcg_RAE
30
Retinol
mcg
30
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
mg
5.00
Vitamin E, added
mg
0.00
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
mcg
0.1
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturated
g
0.361
4:0
g
0.000
6:0
g
0.000
8:0
g
0.000
10:0
g
0.000
12:0
g
0.000
14:0
g
0.056
16:0
g
0.249
18:0
g
0.051
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated
g
0.259
16:1 undifferentiated
g
0.048
18:1 undifferentiated
g
0.211
20:1
g
0.000
22:1 undifferentiated
g
0.000
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated
g
0.252
18:2 undifferentiated
g
0.017
18:3 undifferentiated
g
0.000
18:4
g
0.015
20:4 undifferentiated
g
0.000
20:5 n-3
g
0.119
22:5 n-3
g
0.099
22:6 n-3
g
0.000
Cholesterol
mg
50
Other
Alcohol, ethyl
g
0.0
Caffeine
mg
0
Theobromine
mg
0
Carotene, beta
mcg
0
Carotene, alpha
mcg
0
Cryptoxanthin, beta
mcg
0
Lycopene
mcg
0
Lutein + zeaxanthin
mcg
0


References:

Su, X. Q., Antonas, K. N., and Li, D. 2004. Comparison of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid contents of wild and cultured Australian abalone. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 55(2): 149 - 154 .

Saldanha, T., Gaspar, A., Santana, D. M. da. N. 2001. Composition of meat from the snail (Achatina Fulica) produced in Iguape, SP. Higiene-Alimentar, 15(85): 69-74.

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