The “periwinkles” we would be discussing in this article are snails and not a color or type of flower. The common periwinkle or periwinkle snail, which is about an inch long, is commonly found on rocky shores, rock jetties, and pilings. Its shell is typically black, brown, or gray. The periwinkle snail, scientifically known as Littorina littorea, is commonly found in North America, where it is regarded as an invasive species after it was accidentally introduced in the mid-1800s.
Periwinkle snails are highly valued for their taste in dishes, especially in Asian and African cuisines. These snails are a species of small edible whelk or sea snail that has gills and an operculum. The snails are very low in fat and rich in rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, raw snails, in general, contain about 80% water, 15% protein, and 1.4% fat.
Health Benefits of Periwinkle Snails
Now, let’s take a look at the health benefits of periwinkle snails based on the nutrients they offer.
Rich in Protein
Periwinkle snails contain high amounts of protein, as high as 15% and are effective at preventing diseases like kwashiorkor which are caused by protein deficiency. When the body enjoys enough protein, it helps to speed up wound healing and the regeneration of cells. This helps to balance the hormones and enzymes in the body.
In addition, the proteins found in periwinkle snails aid the growth and development that occurs in the body. The nails and hair are mostly made of protein. The body also uses protein for building and repairing tissues, particularly as a building block of muscles, bones, blood, cartilage, and skin.
Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is not produced by the body. Periwinkle snails contain an impressive amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in periwinkle snails is more than the daily requirement of an individual.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to boost brain health by aiding the development of cell membranes in the nervous system. This powerful nutrient can also help improve memory, protect the skin against sun damage, inhibit premature aging, and reduce menstrual pain.
Omega-3 fatty acids combat heart-related ailments by lowering the risk of high blood pressure. Hence, the consumption of periwinkle snails helps to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acid in the blood and reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. The intake of omega-3 has been linked to a reduced risk of asthma as well. Omega-3 may help also help to prevent and treat anxiety and depression.
High in Iron
Periwinkle snails are very high in iron, which is an important nutrient for the formation of red blood cells. A deficiency in iron can result in severe anemia and fatigue and ion can encourage the transportation of energy throughout the body. Iron also helps to protect the immune system, preserve gastrointestinal processes, and ensure the regulation of body temperature. It is important to keep in mind that iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, anemia, irregular heartbeats, and pale skin.
Periwinkle snails are also high in phosphorous, a nutrient that facilitates the metabolism of fats and starches. Phosphorous supports the growth of healthy teeth, gums, and bones. It also eliminates waste from the kidneys, encourages muscle contraction, reduces muscle pain after workouts, repairs tissues, and cells, produces the genetic building blocks of the body, prevents heart palpitations, and stores energy.
Periwinkle snails contain high levels of magnesium, a nutrient that offers several health benefits. Magnesium is required for the synthesis of proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. The body also needs magnesium to regulate blood pressure, keep the heart healthy, and fortify bones.
Periwinkle Snails are Selenium-rich
Selenium, on the other hand, is a nutrient that combats diseases such as cancer, as well as reproductive and heart conditions. When used with vitamin E, Selenium becomes a very powerful antioxidant that helps to slow aging and prevent the deterioration of tissues via oxidation. Selenium is mainly found in the liver, kidneys, testes, and pancreas.
Contains Core Vitamins
One major health benefit of periwinkle snail is that it contains various vitamins (A, B1, B3, and B12), which are imperative for body’s optimal function. Vitamin A facilitates the health of the eyes, while vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin B1, B3, B6, and Vitamin B12 are essential vitamins required to avert and regulate diabetes. Periwinkle contains niacin, a type of B complex vitamin that supports carbohydrate metabolism to produce energy. Periwinkle snails also contain choline, the main component of the nervous system, which maintains a brain function.
The other health benefits of lettered vitamins include their ability to avert and treat various diseases including skin issues, heart problems, high cholesterol levels, and eye problems. Most vitamins, including those present in periwinkle snails, facilitate several of the body’s mechanisms.
More Facts on Periwinkle Snails
- The periwinkle snails are small marine snails that belongs to the family Littorinidae and are usually found on rocks, stones, pilings or mud flats between high and low tide marks; a few are found on mud flats.
- It is usually dark gray and has a solid spiral shell that readily withstands the sea waves.
- While people have long enjoyed a good relationship with the periwinkle snails, in America, they are considered invasive. They cause harm to other species and alter the natural environment.
- Due to their accidental introduction, the periwinkle snail is found on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America and is believed to be one of the main species after eliminating several native species.
- According to some reports, a periwinkle snail can live between five and ten years. In a year, a female periwinkle snail can lay between 10,000 to 100,000 eggs, which hatch into larvae in four to seven weeks. However, not all of the larvae survive to adulthood, as several thousands of them become food to predators or succumb to unpleasant sea conditions.
- In addition to being edible, the shells of the periwinkle snails are used by artists as materials for artworks.
- Periwinkle snails are believed to be able to survive for many days without food or water.
- They protect themselves from harsh sea conditions by closing into their shells and excreting a sticky mucous that firmly attaches them to a rock or blade of seagrass.
- Periwinkle snails are able to adapt to different environmental conditions, including low tide, extreme wave activity, as well as severe wind and heat.
- Although periwinkle snails contain a lot of nutritional benefits, it is better to consume them along with a balanced diet.