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We welcome you to the arena of financial investment on projects that can make you your own boss. The purpose of this week’s topic is to say the least, the importance of Snail production and its consumption in respect of its protein, moisture, ash, fat, total as carbohydrate, as well as its mineral content, and the attendant medicinal value correlating with its health benefits.

There are several land snails that can be farmed, enriched economically, and be consumed.

Edible land snails range in size from about one millimeter long to the giant African snails which occasionally grow up to 312mm in length. Examples of some of edible snails are;

  • Helix Aspersa: Known as French “petit gris” “small grey snail”, “escargot chagrine” or la zigrinate. It has a life span of 2 to 5 years. This species is more adaptable to different climates and conditions than many snails, and is found in Woods, field, sand dunes and gardens. This adaptability not only increases H.aspersa’s range, but it also makes farming H.aspersa easier and less risky.
  • Helix Pomatia: Measures 45mm across the shell. It is also called the Roman snail. To Many in Europe, H.pomatia is preferred to H.aspersa for its flavour and its large size, as the “escargot par excellence”.
  • Otala latea or Helix latea (vine yard snail, milk snail or Spanish snail). The shell is white with reddish brown spiral bands and measures about 26 to 35mm . Many think it tastes better than H.aspersa.
  • Iberus Alonensis
  • Cepaea hortensis, or Helix hortensis, garden snail. Measures about 20mm across the shell and has distinct dark stripes. Its habits vary, but it’s found in colder and wetter places.
  • Otala Punctata or Archelix punctata. Measures about 35mm across the shell.
  • Otala Vermuculata: Also called Eobania v. or helix v, the vineyala, mongeta, or Xona measures about 25mm.
  • Helix Lucorun or escargot turc.
  • Helix Aperta or burrowing snail measures about 25mm. Its meat is highly prized. It is found on ground only during rainy weather. In hot, dry weather, it burrows three to six inches into the ground and becomes dormant until rain softens the soil.
  • Theba Pisana: Also called the banded snail of the cargol avellence. Measures about 20mm and lives on dry, exposed sites, usually near water.
  • Shpincterochila Candidisima or leucochroa candidisima, the cargol mongeta or cargol jueu: measures about 20mm.
  • Achatina Fulica, one of several giant African snails, grows up to 326mm long. Also, due to its large size, its slime and fecal material create a nuisance as does the odor that occurs when something like poison baits causes large numbers to die.

The chemical analysis of most snail shows that the meat is rich in protein (82.96%) and low in both total carbohydrate (3.26%) and fat (3.98%). The major minerals found in snail consist of calcium (585.5 mg/100 g) phosphorus (269.2 mg/100 g), potassium (331.8 mg/100 g) and zinc (39.0 mg/100 g)

However, iron, and copper content of snail meat is less than 10 mg/100 g. This means that, the meat is a good source of protein and minerals, and may be used to treat nutritional deficiencies and manage diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and stroke.

In West Africa, snail meat has traditionally been a major source of protein in the diet of people living in the forest belt. But now this all important source of animal protein is internationally acclaimed to be both a protein source and also healing diet for assorted diseases of the human body. The edible portion has 88.37% protein. This is attributed to the fact that, snail meat is basically made up of muscles and also the fact that proteins are indispensable constituents of every living cell.

The snail meat is by far more proteinous, cheaper, and safer than beef and poultry meat. It has calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, with very low fat content. Its protein contains all the essential amino-acids such as lysine, leucine, isoleucine and phenylalanine which are needed by the body for its metabolic activities.

It contributes about 1 % of protein food in Nigeria which is a far cry from what it is suppose to be.

Though snails have been acclaimed to be a rich source of protein and other essential nutrients required for good Health, they are not regularly consumed in the diet of many Nigerians, as a result of its scarcity and lack of fast, modern method of breeding, as Snail meat is a delicacy any day.

The Medicinal uses of the African Giant snail among rural people, is due to its usefulness in soup form for correcting these anomalies, Suppression of hypertension, Curtailing aggression and Malformation of bone structure, Nourishment of lactating mothers, Promotion of easy child labour ,Cure of anemia, Suppression of convulsion, Whooping cough, The fluid Stops bleeding from cuts ,Treatment of eye problems ,Circumcision of male children, Suppression of small pox, and being Anti-rheumatic. The other medicinal value of snail meat includes treatment of whooping cough, anemia, asthma, and high blood pressure due to their relatively low cholesterol level but high mineral content, as they form an essential component of both the nucleus and cell protoplasm and are found in most extracellular animal tissue fluid. Proteins are known, among other functions, to repair worn out tissues and may account for it being used by traditional people to enhance the healing of wounds and cuts.

Being a good source of animal protein, snails can be used in a powdered form to prepare nutritious food for babies who are being weaned from breast milk, particularly in forested areas to prevent protein energy malnutrition among children under five years. Paradoxically, in forested areas where snails are available and can be picked freely from the environment, incidence of kwashiorkor, marasmic-kwashiorkor and stunted growth are common. The same conditions are also recorded among school going children. Consumption of snail meat can therefore help in ameliorating these conditions.

Besides, snail meat is low in cholesterol. This is a major problem in livestock meat.

With the rising incidence of diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases, resulting from the excessive consumption of saturated fatty foods, particularly from animal sources, coupled with physical inactivity- of white collar job generation , the eating of snail meat may help in curtailing the high incidence of diet related non communicable diseases.

Research has shown that, women over 45years or older who consumed both poultry and red meat over a 10-year period, were diagnosed as hypertensive while other studies indicated that, diet high in red meat is a contributing factor to the risk of type 2 diabetes .

The ash content of a food sample gives an indication of the number and amount of minerals present. Snails eat from varied food sources including the soil, and this may account for the relatively high ash value obtained in snail

Snail meat could be dried to moisture content of (6.58%) after some hours of drying. The moisture content is quite low and the dried snails could be kept safe for a considerable period of time when packaged properly. It can be exported when dried for medicinal and as a rich vegans protein source.

The value for snail’s total carbohydrate is relatively low. This is so, as snail meat is basically animal protein, and with the slow nature of its locomotion, it only needs to store small amounts of glycogen for this purpose. Animals have limited capacity to store glycogen in their bodies and excess amounts are metabolized into Fat. It could be speculated that, the extremely slow pace of snail movement may not necessitate the storage of large amount of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. There is consequently not enough glycogen left to be converted to fat, which accounts for the low per cent of fat obtained in snail meat.

The energy value is quite high (±8.98 kJ/100 g) due to the low moisture content of the dried snail sample. Snail meat can therefore provide significant amount of calories in the diet.

The mineral nutrients are interrelated and do not play independent self-sufficient roles in the human body. For instance, calcium and phosphorus are in definite relationship in the formation of bones and teeth, and so are iron and zinc shown to reduce the morbidity of diarrheal disease and pneumonia.

The researched Results obtained from snail meat mineral analysis shows that snail meat has high calcium content as compared to potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and copper.

And these play their roles as the Iron forms a component part of the haem groups of the oxygen-carrying proteins haemoglobin and myoglobin and of the electron-carrying mitochondrial protein cytochrome C. Iron plays an essential role in coupled oxidations and reductions (by inter-conversion of its reduced or ferrous state with its oxidized or ferric state) in such processes as oxygen transport and cellular respiration.

Iron-sulphur enzymes are another important class of iron-containing enzymes. They also function in electron transferring reactions of mitochondria. An example is NADH-ubiquinone reductase . Iron is also found in the intracellular cytochrome enzyme system, which functions in energy production and cellular respiration.

Moreover, various non-haem enzymes use iron as an active site. It is fairly high and this may account for its use in combating iron deficiency anemia in which the

Number of red blood cells is normal but the level of hemoglobin in the cells is relatively low.

In general, iron from animal sources is absorbed more readily than that from cereals or vegetables, as iron from plant sources form complexes with phytates and oxalates in the plant. This makes snail meat an excellent source for the supply of iron in the diet. This may account for use of snail meat in treating anemic condition).

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