What Are the Health Benefits of Whelks?

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on June 07, 2022
4 min read

Whelk is a type of sea snail mostly found in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Northeastern American coast. Whelks can also be found on the coast of some European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Norway. There are other varieties of whelks that can be found in different parts of the world. 

Other names for the whelk include common whelk, waved buccinum, and waved whelk.

Whelks are sea snails also known as Buccinum undatum, from the family Buccinudae. Whelks are carnivorous in nature, and they mostly feed on mussels, barnacles, mollusks, and worms. They can be spotted partially buried in the ocean floor with a spiral shell and pointed tip, which is a distinct feature.

Before cooking whelks, make sure that you have thoroughly washed and scrubbed them in cool water. After cleaning them, boil them in salted water for a few minutes, just enough not to overcook them. 

Whelks are mostly served in the shell with some vinegar. Alternatively, you may choose to remove it from the shell and include it in a pasta dish or seafood salad. Like the majority of seafood, whelks are best eaten fresh.

Unlike clams, whelks have a sweet and saline taste. You should take care not to overcook them in order to maintain their smooth and chewy texture. 

These edible sea snails add plenty of minerals to the diet. They are especially high in calcium, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Whelks are a great source of protein, iron, potassium, copper, vitamin B12, and E. When consumed moderately, whelks are also a good source of essential amino acids. Some of the minerals found in whelks, such as zinc, iron, and copper help in the production of red and white blood cells. As an added advantage, whelks do not increase blood cholesterol levels due to their low-fat content.

The following are some of the health benefits associated with whelks:

Maintain heart health. Whelks contain Omega-3, a fatty acid that helps with heart health. Consuming whelks on a regular basis may help you to prevent heart attacks and other major heart problems.

Repairs damaged cells. Consider adding whelks to your diet for their protein richness. Protein is a nutrient that is vital in the making and maintenance of cells. As a matter of fact, proteins are often referred to as the building blocks of your body because they play an important role in the growth and well-being of your cells.

Treats Alzheimer's. Whelks contain Cobalamin, which is a nutrient that is part of the Vitamin B12 complex. This nutrient is essential in the treatment of Alzheimer's, a mental condition that leads to confusion and cognitive degeneration. Consumption of whelks increases Vitamin B12 levels in the body.

Prevents cancer. Whelks contain vitamins such as Vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B12 in high amounts. When Vitamin B12 is introduced to the body, it has the ability to decrease the risk of cancer.

Maintains hair health. If you have a deficiency in minerals such as magnesium and selenium, it may cause hair problems such as hair loss and dandruff. Luckily, whelks contain a high amount of these minerals. Whelks also contain vitamin B12 and protein, which similarly promote healthy hair growth.

Improved brain function. The relatively high levels of iron in whelks are vital in brain development. Iron also helps form neural pathways.

Eliminates free radicals. Free radicals are naturally produced by the body as a result of some metabolic process. Whelks contain antioxidant properties, though, which control the activity of the free radicals that may otherwise damage human cells, causing cancer.

Improves immunity. Vitamin B6 assists in the prevention of infections in the body. It is among the vitamins present in whelks. As such, consuming whelks can help you build up general immunity in your body.

Effective for weight loss. Whelks contain a high level of proteins and vitamins but a small amount of fat. This means that whelks do not add bad cholesterol to your body. As such, it is an excellent weight-loss food item.

Improved vision. Due to the vitamin A in whelks, they are recommended for consumption to help boost eye health. Getting an adequate amount of vitamin A in your diet helps reduce sight problems such as night blindness.

Circulating oxygen. Whelks contain iron, an essential mineral that helps in the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the entire body.

Whelks have numerous health benefits. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that are vital in the prevention of such conditions as inflammation, cancer, and mental health issues associated with old age. What’s more, whelks are relatively easy to prepare. If you’re looking for an additional item to your seafood menu, why not try whelks?