Periwinkle is an edible sea food known scientifically as Littorina Littorea. This sea snail has gills and an operculum. Its shell is much harder and stronger than that of an ordinary snail.
There are different types and species of periwinkle but in Africa and Nigeria in particular, the common type is the small black shell Winkles. They are found in large quantities in riverine areas like Port-Harcourt, Bayelsa, Lagos, Delta and Akwaibom.
Periwinkles are found in many Seas across the world but in Africa and Asia, it can be used to prepare some delicacies for human consumption.
For instance, in Nigeria, the Nigerian periwinkle is used in making several delicacies like, Okoro Soup, Edikang Ikong and Afang soup and recently, Periwinkle Sauce. This delicious seafood is sumptuous to behold and provides a lot of health benefits.
The meat from periwinkle is high in
Protein, calcium, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and very low in fat. According to information from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, raw snails generally consist about 80% water, 15% protein, and 1.4% fat.
Periwinkle is not poisonous and it’s best eaten cooked.
So in this post, I’m not going to only write about the health benefits of Perry Winkle but you will also learn how to prepare a Nigerian diet using this nutritious seafood meat.
Top Health Benefits Of Periwinkles (Snail Food)
This marine seafood is in high demand and it’s eaten because of its well known nutritional values which are listed below;
1. It is a good source of Calcium
Littorina littorea (Periwinkle) has high level of calcium CaCO3 (88.22 ± 0.75% and 85.38 ± 0.80% respectively) and a relatively low but substantial level of magnesium MgCO3 (10.25 ± 0.42% and 9.43 ± 0.60% respectively). Its calcium content in particular is needed in the body for maintaining strong bones and healthy teeth. Children should be fed with periwinkles for building heathy bones and maintaining strong body structures.
2. It Has Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One of the highest nutritional values of Perry Winkle is the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in it. Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of polyunsaturated fat that is not produced by our body so it is essential for the body.
Interestingly, the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in periwinkles is more than the daily requirement of an adult human.
Omega-3 fatty acids is important to human beings because it help improve your brain health by aiding the development of cell membranes in the nervous system. This as well helps in improving your memory.
Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acid play a major role in preventing heart diseases by reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
Therefore, eating periwinkles will increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acid in your blood and lowers levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood.
3. It is high in selenium
If you are looking for one of the ways to fight cancer, then you should consume periwinkles because it contains Selenium which is a nutrient that fights diseases such as cancer, reproductive and heart disease. Selenium and vitamin E works together to form a very powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent the aging and deterioration of tissues through oxidation.
So you can see, eating periwinkle can help you appear younger and maintain a smooth skin.
Additionally, Selenium is important for the good performance of some vital body organs such as kidneys, liver, pancreas, and testes.
4. Periwinkles is Rich in Magnesium
Another nutrient available in Periwinkle is magnesium which plays important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body including the synthesis of fats, proteins and nucleic acids, neural reactions.
Your body also need magnesium to maintain normal blood pressure, stronger bones and also keep your heart in good condition.
5. Periwinkles are rich in protein
Periwinkle is a very good source of protein. It contains about 15% protein which is vital for preventing deadly diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmus in the body caused by protein deficiency.
Enough protein is also needed in the body to also quicken wound healing, and cell regeneration to maintain the hormones and enzymes in the body. It is also needed in the growth and development of some body tissue.
6. Periwinkle contains vital vitamins that the body requires
Periwinkles contains vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, B3, B6, and B12 which are very vital to body development. For instance, Vitamin A is needed for good eye sight while vitamin E can act as an antioxidant and also improve ones reproductive health. Likewise, Vitamin B1, B3, B6 and Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin needed to prevent and control diabetes.
Other vitamins that can be found in Periwinkles is niacin and folate. Niacin for instance helps in carbohydrate metabolism to produce energy, and folate is good for pregnant women in developing a healthy fetus.
7. It contains Choline
Choline is a key component of human nervous system, and this nutrient is needed to maintain healthy brain function.
8. It is fortified with Iron
The Nigerian Periwinkle snail is good source of iron. As you already know, Iron is required for the formation of red blood cells and carrying energy around the body. A deficiency of iron can lead to anemia and extreme fatigue.
9. Periwinkles are good source of Phosphorus
The function of Phosphorous in the body is to act as a channel of energy used for the metabolism of fats and starches. Phosphorous also helps in the growth of healthy teeth and gums.
Those are the top nutritional benefits of Periwinkles to the human body.
Now let’s look at how to prepare periwinkle for consumption.
How To Prepare Periwinkles
In Nigeria, there are mainly four (4) ways of preparing periwinkle for different diets. These are;
- Cooking soup with the periwinkles without removing the meat from the hard shell
- Removing the periwinkle shell and cooking soup with the meat
- Making periwinkle sauce without separating the meat
- Making periwinkle sauce with only the meat.
Now that you know different ways it can be prepared, you can proceed to learn how to make a good periwinkle soup.
Get your periwinkles from a good source. It can be freshly from the river banks or from the seafood market
Perform the first cleaning of the periwinkles by completely immersing them in water for about one hour. Then rinse them very well and pour away the dirty water. Apply another clean water and rinse again.
Now start cutting off the tail end of each periwinkle to make it easily removable either by sucking or by removing with a needle.
After that, immerse it in water again and rinse. Do this again and again until you notice the dirt are no more.
Now boil the periwinkles for s few minutes. This will help in further removing dirt attached to the shell. After that, drain away the boiling water and remove the meat from the shell with a small sharp object like needle.
Now that you are done washing and cleaning the periwinkles, put them inside a pot and boil again for about 10 minutes. You can now add salt, ginger and your favorite seasonings to make it tasty.
Your Periwinkle is now ready. You can go ahead and add it to your Okoro Soup, Vegetable Soup, Afang soup, Edikang Ikong or Banga Soup and enjoy.
Interestingly, you can equally use it to prepare a special delicacy called “Periwinkle Sauce” or simply “Perry Sauce” which can be made by adding fresh red pepper, red oil, spices, Ugba, crayfish, magi and beef.
Periwinkle is a highly nutritious seafood that is very beneficial to human health. It’s cheap to purchase but takes time to prepare for consumption. You need to add it to your diet for overall well-being of your body. So when last did you eat Periwinkle?