Every year, at about the same time (April-May), sea turtles crawl out onto dozens of beaches in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They slowly emerge from the water near places where they themselves once hatched, dig shallow holes in the sand and lay eggs. As a rule, they go ashore at high tide at night (about 4 a.m.), and go to sea with the first rays of the sun (until seven in the morning). The predictability of the return of these reptiles played a cruel joke with them - they became a reliable "bonanza" for poachers hunting turtles and their eggs.
Any products from turtles in many countries are appreciated for their unique taste and healing properties. In many developing countries, for centuries, turtles have been used as affordable food and goods that can make good money. All this has led to the fact that laws have been adopted at the international level regulating the capture of these reptiles, and the consumption of their eggs in most of the world has been banned. Although poachers legal aspects rarely stop. According to some studies, from 100 thousand to 250 thousand turtles are eaten annually in the world. The number of eggs eaten is even greater. Conservationists at Columbia University suggest that in one year, at least 1 million people on the planet regularly or periodically consume meat or eggs from turtles.
Why do people eat turtles eggs
This reptile lived on the planet long before the advent of Homo sapiens. It is estimated that turtles as a species are nearly 220 million years old. To survive, an ancient man had to hunt and collect the gifts of nature. Through trial and error, he discovered what was delicious and nutritious for him. One of the first to eat a turtle and its eggs as food was the inhabitants of Asia. They loved this energy-giving product. Even in ancient China, dishes from these reptiles were considered a panacea for many diseases. In the era of the Ming Dynasty (XIV-XVII century), their eggs were used to improve blood circulation and the health of all organs. The Chinese believed that this product cleanses their blood, strengthens the immune system, and also heals the liver, hemorrhoids and activates hair growth.
The eggs of any animal or bird — not just turtles — play a crucial role in maintaining vitality.
They provide the body with essential nutrients. The shell contains calcium, egg white is useful for the immune system and acts as a natural disinfectant, and the yolk is the source of essential nutrients.
From the point of view of modern nutritional science, any eggs are close to the definition of "ideal product." In the list of "ideal products" there was a place for tortoise eggs. This will surprise many, but the truth is this - not only the eggs of the birds are edible. Moreover, some call the turtle product the king of all egg products available to humans.
In this product, the balance of nutrients is more perfect than in other types of eggs. They are small (from 2 cm in diameter and weighing from 5 g, although some weigh 35 g), perfectly round, with a whitish, leathery shell. Many note the outward resemblance of the product to ping-pong balls. Each contains protein and yolk. Compared to chicken or quail eggs in a turtle yolk in relation to protein is much larger. Protein, compared with chicken, is more viscous and differs in chemical composition. In turtle products, it consists mainly of the enzyme lysozyme. This substance, by the way, has disinfecting properties, it is useful for strengthening immunity, and helps fight infections. But egg white is not only a source of nutrients. It is also designed to protect the yolk from bacteria.
Being a low-calorie product (not more than 155 kcal / 100 g) high in protein, turtle eggs are an ideal nutritional ingredient. Dairy products also serve as an excellent source of proteins, but in addition to proteins, they also find impressive portions of fat, which is practically absent in the eggs of turtles.
In addition, if 100 g of chicken or quail eggs contains protein within 12 g, then in a turtle product it is more than 14 g. As for fats, in reptile eggs there are only 7 g (per 100 g of product). And if we talk about proteins of animal origin, then egg whites, in particular from a turtle product, can serve as a useful dietary source of these substances.
It will be useful to recall that proteins are important to humans as a material for the "building blocks" that create all the tissues in the body. This substance is necessary to maintain a healthy blood formula, the production of enzymes and hormones. Proteins are also sources of amino acids, on the balance of which the quality and life expectancy depend.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Another advantage of tortoise eggs is the content of omega-3 fatty acids, which effectively lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides. Omega-substances are extremely useful for the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart disease. They are necessary for the functioning of brain cells. Turtle eggs are rich in eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, the first of which is completely absent in the chicken product, and the second is found only in so-called trace amounts. A lack of docosahexaenoic acid leads to impaired brain function, rapid aging of cells, and visual impairment. Eicosapentaenoic acid is important for lowering bad cholesterol, preventing thrombosis, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
Minerals and Vitamins
Turtle eggs contain 2 times more minerals than duck or quail eggs, and almost 2.5 times more than chicken.
But where is such a big difference? Turtles are wintering animals and in order to survive hibernation, they need a large supply of nutrients. Their eggs contain more than 50 vitamins and minerals in proportions ideally balanced for humans. This product can serve as a source of vitamins A, B, D, E, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, iodine.
In many Latin American cultures, tortoise eggs are considered an aphrodisiac. True, there is no scientific evidence for this yet. But the ability of the product to remove radiation from the body, improve the condition with radiation sickness or malignant tumors, has long been proven in the laboratory. It is also useful for strengthening immunity, improving the condition of the bone marrow, increasing hemoglobin, and also as a natural medicine against viruses and bacteria. This product is necessary for the restoration of vision, memory, metabolic processes. It is important for the heart, nervous and circulatory systems.
But they can be dangerous ...
Turtles also get sick. Eggs laid by unhealthy females are also infected. And this is what all lovers of such exotic food should know. The following is a list of the most common infectious agents.
- Salmonella. This bacterium is quite common in turtle foods. Researchers from Australia, after studying samples taken from reptiles, made a disappointing statement: 8 out of 9 reptiles were infected with Salmonella bacteria. Once in the human body, it causes severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.
- Mycobacteria. At one time, the study of sea turtles living in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands confirmed the presence of mycobacteria in their bodies, including those that cause tuberculosis in humans.
- Leptospira. No less sad results of the experiments were announced by California biologists. They consider sea turtles a kind of reservoir of bacteria, including those causing leptospirosis. The disease is accompanied by fever, severe headache and muscle pain, chills, vomiting, rash and diarrhea. Lack of treatment for leptospirosis leads to kidney dysfunction, meningitis, and even death.
- Parasites. Dangerous parasites living in different parts of the reptile's body also penetrate their blood, liver and eggs. Together with these products (in the absence of proper heat treatment), parasites penetrate the human body.
At an early stage, poisoning with tortoise eggs appears as normal indigestion, but its consequences are much more serious (especially for pregnant women and children).
But nevertheless, the main reason for rejecting turtle eggs, biologists call a decrease in the population of these reptiles. The extinction of turtles will unbalance the marine ecosystem, which will become a serious global problem.
Use as food
For culinary needs use only the eggs of aquatic turtles (and only certain species). This product can be recognized by its soft shell and perfect spherical shape.
As a rule, this delicacy is a part of oriental cuisine, and also serves as a traditional product for the inhabitants of Malaysia, Cuba, Costa Rica, and many island inhabitants. They use the product raw or slightly cooked with the addition of soy sauce. To taste the tortoise delicacy resembles chicken eggs, but leaves behind a musky aftertaste.
The threat of the complete extinction of some species of turtles, especially marine turtles, has led to a ban on the consumption and sale of eggs of wild reptiles. Instead, locals and tourists are offered a product from turtle farms. Although poachers are always ready to offer visitors a “forbidden fruit”.
Culinary experts conducted an experiment using tortoise and quail eggs as products with almost the same size. At the same time, the contents of both shells were knocked onto a heated pan. At the time when the quail protein was already burnt, the turtle was just starting to thicken. To cook reptile eggs, you always need a lot more time than for products obtained from birds. And there is an explanation for this. For thousands of years of evolution, turtles have adapted to survive in the most extreme conditions. They live mainly in latitudes with a hot climate, laying their offspring in the hot sand. Under similar conditions, the embryos of other living things would die of heat. But nature made sure that the eggs of the reptiles possess increased heat resistance and adaptability. That’s the whole secret.
The use of eggs of turtles can lead to complete extinction of the species even earlier than it seems to many. Females lay offspring only after reaching puberty, that is, 30 years after birth. Every 2-5 years they hide 60-130 eggs in the sand, but not all of them will become adult turtles. Many will fall on gourmet plates. Nature made sure to give the person with this food all the necessary nutrients. But man also needs to remember the protection of nature.