In the stories shot in Costigliole d’Asti, at the Casa del Trifulau, Chiara Ferragni stated that she cannot eat truffles when pregnant. Many followers have wondered: why?
We try to explain it here not before having discovered up close properties and curiosities about truffles.
The properties of truffles
Truffles have been popular for centuries and today are one of the most expensive foods you can buy. The cost of the black truffle for example is about € 800 per Kg.
Truffles are the gift of underground mushrooms. Unlike mushrooms, which grow above ground, truffles grow on tree roots 5 to 10 centimeters below the ground. It takes special skills and tools to understand where they are and to pick them up gently. There are dogs that are specially trained in research.
Truffles look very different from mushrooms. They have a rounded, wrinkled, or smooth shape with varying sizes. Some are as small as nuts, while others are as large as a fist.
There are over 100 different types of truffles in the world, but among the most common we find the “white truffle”, a very fragrant Italian truffle, and the “black truffle”.
Each truffle has its own distinct flavor, depending on the time during its growth, the type of roots of the trees it grows on. In general, however, you can expect a strong, earthy taste (and smell) that looks more like a scent than a spice.
Nutritional values of truffles
The size of a portion of truffles is small, it corresponds to 0.5 grams,
A portion of black truffle preserved in water and salt contains:
- Calories: 10
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
The exact nutrients present in truffles will depend on the type but in any case they are all a rich source of amino acids and minerals, including:
- Vitamins A, B, C, D and K.
Truffles are also rich in natural substances that protect against “free radicals”.
Truffles: health benefits
In Africa and the Middle East, people use truffles as a medicine for some skin and eye diseases but it is not clear if and how well they work.
Studies have tested a very concentrated truffle extract showing that it can:
- Lower cholesterol
- Keep your blood sugar under control
- Have a protective effect on the liver
- Reduce the state of inflammation throughout the body
- Fighting bacterial infections
- Help prevent cancer
Keep in mind that the amount of truffles you eat is much less than the quantities tested, so it is unlikely to have this kind of impact on your health.
A truffle allergy is very rare. It is important, however, to only eat fresh truffles that come from a known and reliable source. Some poisonous mushrooms can be confused with truffles. Only an expert can tell them apart.
How to prepare and eat truffles
Once harvested, the truffles begin to rot within 10 days. It is not a good idea to boil or freeze them to try and make them last longer. Freezing ruins the texture of the truffle and boiling damages its flavor.
Clean the truffles as soon as they are picked. Cut out any bad spots and brush off the dirt, then gently rinse and dry. Cover the truffles with a dry paper towel and keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
The smell and taste of a truffle are so strong that they can be annoying. Generally they are used freshly grated in small quantities on food before eating it. You can add grated raw truffle on eggs, pasta, rice, sauces, chicken and fish.
And here comes the problem for those who are pregnant.
Truffles in pregnancy
The truffle growing underground and therefore in contact with possible pathogens, it cannot be eaten raw by a pregnant woman, particularly if it is not immune to toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite, Toxoplasma gondi.
Toxoplasmosis infections in most cases are due to infected meat that has not been cooked enough to eliminate the parasite.
In other cases it is taken from contaminated raw vegetables (from the feces of an infected animal, typically the cat) or for direct contact with feces infected without using gloves and / or washing your hands properly before taking them to your mouth or touching food.
Nutrition is the first cause of toxoplasmosis infection, an infection that in pregnancy can be really dangerous for the health of the baby
Are there alternatives to be able to eat truffles during pregnancy anyway? There are those who offer frozen truffles (for at least 3 days) or freeze-dried ones, or packaged products. However, there are no scientific references in this regard therefore, when in doubt, it is always preferable to give up truffles in those 9 months of pregnancy to be sure not to run into infections due to not completely clean foods.
This is not an impossible renunciation, we are lucky enough to be able to bring a wide variety of foods to the table, we can do it!
Hesham El Enshasy, Elsayed A. Elsayed, Ramlan Aziz, Mohamad A. Wadaan, “Mushrooms and Truffles: Historical Biofactories for Complementary Medicine in Africa and in the Middle East”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, Article ID 620451, 10 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/620451