Anyone who has tried black truffles know how it makes a user feel. Many say its scent is strong, blissful, and sexy. It is indeed a delicacy, given the fact that one kilo of the product costs between $1300 and $4700.
Its effects are not limited to humans either – it has a similar effect on animals, believe it or not. Pigs and dogs are both known for searching the mushrooms out.
Why are they so good?
Italian researchers have unveiled part of the reason for the bliss found in black truffles: they have a molecule that resembles the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in cannabis, or marijuana. The molecule is called anandamide, and, like THC, it has the psychoactive qualities that lead to euphoria and other positive feelings that give black truffles their “bliss.” This is the same molecule that is responsible for causing the release of melanin in humans.
Anandamide increases the user’s mood, appetite, and eases issues such as depression. It also is the reason for the black truffles’ color. It is thought that the plant has evolved to have this color and chemical make-up specifically for animals to seek them out because, once eaten, the spores of the fungus get spread out. Because that’s in its best interest, the plant evolved to attract the interest of animals.
Past and future research
We know why we love Black Truffles, but could there be even more to learn? For researchers, the answer is a definite yes. The next step in truffles research is to discover whether white truffles, burgundy truffles, and Bianchetto truffles also share the same chemical makeup as the black truffles.
Another German study on Black Truffles discovered that the distinct smell and taste of a truffle is actually a result of the soil it grows in. The bacteria from the soil gets stuck in the truffle during their growth, and this causes the unique smell. The smell also comes from the sulphur that is produced by the soil bacteria. The existence of this bacteria also means the shelf life of the truffles is greatly shortened.
The study hopes to be able to predict the truffle’s shelf life based on the presence of this bacteria. If successful, this knowledge could make it easier for more people to enjoy the delicacy.
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