When it comes to weight loss, we often find ourselves inundated with many diets and weight loss trends promising quick and effortless results. Among the countless options, a rather unconventional suggestion has made its way into the discussion: snails. But is there any truth behind this unusual weight loss theory, or is it just another myth?
Snails are good for weight loss if incorporated into a balanced diet. Including snails in meals can increase protein intake while maintaining calorie deficits, which is crucial for weight loss. However, consider overall dietary patterns and physical activity levels for sustainable weight management.
In this article, I look at some of the contents of snail meat and why people are opting to eat snails for weight loss and other benefits that can lead to better health.
Why More and More People Are Eating Snails
Snails are classified as seafood, and this includes land snails despite them being terrestrial. This might help explain why snails are such a popular delicacy in France, Germany, Spain, and the opposite side of the Mediterranean in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.
Snails are also considered edible in many parts of Asia and not just because ‘they taste good’ but rather the positive impact snail meat can have on a balanced diet.
Snails offer the following health benefits:
- Snails have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Eating snails can also strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of cancer.
- Snail meat is a great remedy for heart issues, cardiac arrest, and other vascular illnesses.
Let’s take a closer look at the content of snails to better understand these health benefits.
Snail meat is rich in vitamins, including vitamins A, E, B1, B6, and B12. These essential vitamins play crucial roles in various bodily functions, ranging from aiding in proper blood clotting to maintaining healthy nerves.
Snail meat is high in the mineral selenium, which is crucial in regulating important hormones. This mineral is essential for combating cancer and various chronic illnesses.
Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells and the transportation of energy throughout the body. Snails are rich in iron content, which can help combat fatigue and tiredness.
Magnesium is an essential chemical element required for hundreds of enzymatic processes in the brain and body. It plays a vital role in the following:
- Cardiac activity
- Muscle contraction
- Bone metabolism
For example, when the edible meat of the Archachatina marginata, commonly known as the African giant land snail, is fed four different food sources, it contains roughly 250g of magnesium. This quantity is thought to meet approximately 60% of the daily magnesium requirement.
But exactly how does eating snails help with weight loss?
Are Snails Good for Weight Loss?
Regular exercise is essential for weight loss, but no amount of walking, running, or going to the gym takes away from the need to maintain a healthy diet. This is because you simply cannot lose weight without ensuring that you consume fewer calories than burning daily.
While this intake should include fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, a balanced diet also requires healthy fats, which provide much-needed nutrients to the body. While this is one reason people eat meat, the content of meat is different from one type to the next, and this is certainly the case with snail meat.
While snails can be a part of a balanced diet and contribute to weight loss, it is important to note that no single food can guarantee weight loss on its own. Weight loss is achieved through a combination of factors, including:
- Overall caloric intake
- Physical activity
- Individual metabolism
That said, snails can be a good choice for weight loss due to their nutritional profile. Snail meat is low in fat, making it a healthier option than high-fat meats like red meat. By reducing intake of fatty foods, individuals can better manage their caloric intake and support weight loss.
Snails are also high in protein, with more than 16 grams of protein in 100 grams of snail meat. Protein is important for weight loss as it helps promote satiety and preserves muscle mass.
Additionally, snail meat is relatively low in calories compared to other types of meat. An ounce of snail meat contains approximately 100 calories, around 30% less than other meats. This can benefit individuals looking to reduce their caloric intake without sacrificing protein.
Moreover, snail meat is carbohydrate-free and sugar-free, making it a suitable option for low-carbohydrate or low-calorie diets. Including snail meat in a balanced diet can provide a variety of nutrients without adding excessive calories or carbohydrates.
It’s worth mentioning that increasing protein intake moderately can aid in weight management by preventing weight gain or weight regain. The high water content (80%) of snails adds to their organic nature and can contribute to hydration and overall dietary balance.
Is it Safe to Eat Snails for Weight Loss?
Some types of sea snails are non-edible, and eating raw snails is not a good idea because they are sometimes infected by a parasite.
Other freshwater creatures, including frogs or crabs, can indeed carry such parasites, and these diseases can be very harmful to human health. However, most land snails are safe to eat if the snails are carefully sourced and properly prepared.
For instance, it’s important to harvest snails from places without pesticides or herbicides, and snail meat should always be cooked, which usually involves boiling them until tender.
Snail meat is not only low in fat but also high in protein, making it a nutritious choice. It contains important vitamins and minerals like iron, selenium, and magnesium, essential for bodily functions.
In addition to these health benefits, snail meat is often considered beneficial for weight loss due to its low-calorie content. Being free of carbohydrates, snail meat eliminates the need for carbohydrate restriction, which can be challenging when trying to maintain a balanced diet.
The popularity of snails in many parts of the world indicates that taste is not the primary reason for the taboo associated with consuming them.
Regardless, the aforementioned health benefits provide ample reason to explore new culinary experiences and consider incorporating snails into a weight loss plan.
- NIH: A Healthy Approach to Dietary Fats: Understanding the Science and Taking Action to Reduce Consumer Confusion
- NIH: Magnesium Basics
- NIH: Potential Role of Selenium in the Treatment of Cancer and Viral Infections
- ResearchGate: Nutritional and Sensory Profiling of the African Giant Land Snail Fed Commercial-Type and Leaf-Based Diets in a Rain-Forest Ecology
- ScienceDirect: Raw Materials From Snails for Food Preparation
- ScienceDirect: Studies on Snail Meal as a Protein Source for Chickens: 1. Chemical Composition, Metabolizable Energy, and Feeding Value for Broilers
- WebMD: Snails: Are There Health Benefits?
- Wiley Online Library: Snails in the Sun: Strategies of Terrestrial Gastropods to Cope With Hot and Dry Conditions
This article was written by Derek Cullen, a Dublin-born adventurer and travel writer with a passion for exploring the world. The article was expertly reviewed and edited by Paul Odoteh, founder of SnailPedia.com.