Snails or kochlii are one of the main foods of the Mediterranean diet. Snails were the favorite food since the Minoan era until today mainly because of their high nutritional value.
Considered as a fine delicacy for connoisseurs all over the world. Increasingly appreciated is their culinary and nutritional value as they attract high in nutrients, minerals, essential amino acids and beneficial fatty acids, in addition to them being low in calories. The latest studies have proved the meat of snails as one of the positive nutritional factors of the Mediterranean diet.
The caloric value of the snail meat is 600-900 calories per pound of meat when ready for consumption, lower than the meat of various fish, birds and mammals. The protein content is high and ranges from 10 to 16% of the net weight. The percentage of fat is 0.5 to 2% of the total net weight.
The water content is high and ranges from 73-89%.
The compositional analysis of lipids gives us a relatively high range of poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Specifically, the total saturated lipids occupy the 25.78%, mono-unsaturated are the 18.55% and the poly-unsaturated constitute the remaining 18%
From the poly-unsaturated the ratio of Ω-3 / Ω-6 ranges from 0.2 to 2 which based on current nutritional opinions is considered to be very good and comparable to fish (from 0.5 to 8).
It should be emphasized here that the fat of snails is beneficial because it provides the body with its Ω-3 fatty acids, which are considered to be essential due to the human incapacity to synthesize and therefore must be taken through the diet. They are very beneficial for the health, because they are assumed to inhibit atherosclerosis and thrombosis and even have anti-inflammatory effects, prevent allergies, depression, and other diseases of the nervous system.
As far as minerals (metals) are concerned the meat of snails is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Some researchers suggest the consumption of snails as an alternative source of calcium and phosphorus, two very important ingredients for the growing of the bones.
Regarding to micronutrients, the meat of these species is a good source of selenium (27.4 mg/100mg), providing the consumer with virtually 50% of the daily recommended amount required for the recruitment of an adult woman (which is 50 mg / day) and 1/3 for a man.
The selenium has powerful antioxidant properties protecting against heart disease and cancer (especially the one of prostate), also contributing to the good functioning of the thyroid gland and the immune system.
Besides of all the above mentioned, the flesh of snails is a major dietary source of vitamins. Niacin is a water soluble vitamin B complex with beneficial effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems. It is remarkably stable and resistant to heat, cooking and storing food. The content of their meat to niacin is 1,4 mg/100g of the edible meat consumption and corresponds to 50 g and 150 g cheese, yogurt, lentils or potatoes which are considered to be good sources of this vitamin.
The high viability of the Cretans and the low rates of cancer have been associated to the frequent consumption of snails.