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article imageSnail pie is tastier, more nutritious than beef

By Elizabeth Cunningham Perkins     Nov 19, 2009 in Science
Malnutrition and iron deficiency among schoolchildren in developing countries could be reduced by serving up generous portions of delicious, bargain-priced snail pie and other handy beef alternatives.
Ukpong Udofia of the Department of Home Economics at the University of Uyo explains that snail is not only cheaper and more readily available than beef but contains more protein, iron and other vital nutrients.
Udofia and her research team analyzed the flesh of the giant West African land snail (Archachatina marginata) and compared it to beef. The team studied moisture levels, protein content, and iron composition and found that snail pie surpassed beef pie in every category.
Mothers and their children taste tested both snail and beef pie meals cooked by Udofia and her team. Most of the kids and their mothers found the flavor, texture, and appearance of the baked snail pies superior to those made with beef.
"Snail pie is recommended as a cheap source of protein and iron for school-age children and young mothers and could contribute in the fight against iron deficiency anemia," Udofia says.
She points out, that the land snail is a readily available and affordable source of animal protein -- though more often thought as an unusual pet than a pie ingredient in western countries -- because it thrives in the green forests and swamps of many developing countries including Nigeria, and because the land snail is being encouraged to grow in more of those areas.
According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency and a lack of protein affect young mothers and their children in Nigeria and many other developing countries. Udofia and her team have concluded that, while snail pie is not a quick fix for all malnutrition in those countries, developing such cheap and easy alternatives to high-cost meat products could help significantly.
Snail meat is highly nutritious. It contains protein and polyunsaturated fat as well as minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamins A, B6, B12, K and folate.
Snail flesh is also a better source of the amino acids arginine and lysine than whole eggs. It contains fatty acids that are necessary for growth and health, such as linoleic and linolenic acids.
Udofia maintains that the high-protein, low-fat content of snail meat makes it a particularly healthy alternative food.
Udofia's paper, "Snail (Archachatina marginata) pie: a nutrient rich snack for school-age children and young mothers" appears in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2009, Vol. 2, 125-130.
More about Snails beef alternative, Nutrition, Malnutrition
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