If you cringe at the thought of snacking on snails, call them by their French name, escargots, and bask in their nourishment. Each 3-ounce serving of cooked snails has only 76 calories. With no sugar or cholesterol and practically no fat, they replenish your muscles with 14 grams of protein per serving. Eating snails also boosts your intake of a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin E and Selenium
A serving of cooked snails provides more than one-third of the vitamin E you need each day. This antioxidant nutrient helps your body produce red blood cells and benefits your muscles and other tissues. Snails also give you about half your recommended daily intake for selenium, an antioxidant mineral that may help keep your heart disease, thyroid and immune system in shape, and may even protect against some kinds of cancer, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Women need lots of iron, and eating snails is a good way to get that essential mineral. A serving of escargots gives you 3 milligrams of iron, one-sixth of your daily requirement. It also provides two-thirds of the magnesium, one-third of the phosphorus and nearly 10 percent of the potassium you need each day, as well as small amounts of calcium and zinc. These minerals keep your bones, organs and muscles healthy and contribute to keeping your blood pressure low.
Improve Your Mood
Feeling grouchy? Eat some snails. They contain tryptophan, a chemical your brain needs in order to make a mood-enhancing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin helps your body regulate your appetite and tells it when to sleep, according to Sarah-Marie Hop, of Dartmouth College's "Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science." It can also make you feel more relaxed and less anxious, improving your overall mood and giving you a feeling of well being.
Snails may be low in fat and calories, but if you smother them in a garlic butter sauce, as the French generally do, you run the risk of turning them into a fattening monstrosity. A typical recipe for escargot bourguignon calls for 2/3 cup of butter for four servings, bringing each serving to 277 calories and 31 grams of fat. Replace butter with less-fattening oils, such as olive oil, to make sure your healthy snails don't wreak havoc on your heart and waistline.
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.