We’re often told that you should never eat anything (or put anything on your body) if you don’t recognize everything on the ingredients list. But since most of us have no idea what xanthan gum or potassium benzoate are — or more importantly, what they’re doing to our bodies — we’re decoding the ingredients in the many things Americans put in (and on, or near) themselves.
In the name of Halloween, this week we’re devoting the column to exploring the only cuisine beloved by both dedicated gourmands and zombies: Organ meats. Since these are intrinsically single-ingredient foods, rather than analyzing the individual ingredients as we normally do, we’ll be examining them based on nutritional value and the like.
This edition: Bull testicles, which have been inspected in detail down below. But before grabbing hold of that information, some brief scrotum lore: In China, bull testicles are held up as an ancient aphrodisiac believed to work better than Viagra, and the same notion persists throughout India. In the U.S. and Canada, meanwhile, we deep-fry the suckers and call them Rocky Mountain Oysters or Prairie Oysters, which were allegedly conceived by ranchers and cowboys. Then Serbia sacked up and decided to host the World Testicle Cooking Championship each year, where local chefs dish out the likes of testicle pizza and testicles in bechamel sauce. Delish!
But do bull testicles live up to their fabled sexual promises? Come along and find out.
1) Protein: One serving (about three and a half ounces) of raw bull testicles contains a whopping 26 grams of protein — five grams more than the same portion of raw chicken breast — along with just 135 calories and a measly three grams of fat. Cooking them can reduce that fat content even more, as fats tend to evaporate or stick around in the frying pan, but the protein level should remain high.
2) Minerals: Bull testicles contain a decent assortment of minerals, including small amounts of potassium (which regulates fluid balance), iron (which transports oxygen throughout the body) and magnesium (which maintains nerve and muscle function). They boast higher levels, though, of phosphorus, which helps with the formation of bones and teeth, and zinc, which bolsters the immune system.
Speaking of zinc — and appropriately, considering the sex-boosting connotation of bull testicles — adequate zinc levels are considered to be a cornerstone of male sexual health, with low levels associated with low testosterone, poor sperm quality and an increased risk of male infertility. Bull while, as mentioned above, there’s a healthy serving of zinc in each bullock bollock, they’re nothing too special: One serving delivers 13 percent of the daily recommended intake, which is less than half as much as the same amount of dark chocolate.
3) Orchic Substances: Orchic substances (i.e., tissue from the testicular glands) are often extracted from bull testicles and sold in supplement form, with the marketers implying that, since orchic extracts are a good source of testosterone, their supplements improve testicular function. However — and this is a big however — no research supports that claim whatsoever. In fact, the idea that you can just go ahead and eat testosterone to become a raging sex machine is pretty damn fantastical on its own merit. Bummer.
4) Cholesterol: Like many organ meats, bull testicles are somewhat high in cholesterol, a fatty substance found in blood that tends to gather in vital organs (and balls, of course). One serving contains 375 milligrams of cholesterol, which is a good amount.
Most nutrition professionals hold that too much cholesterol, particularly in people who have some kind of sensitivity to the stuff, can have a major impact on your chances of developing heart disease. However, some more recent studies have suggested otherwise, claiming that cholesterol has literally no impact on the development of heart disease whatsoever (although, there has been some pushback against this research). Overall, cholesterol is a complicated subject, but since the potential consequences are quite serious, keeping your cholesterol in check is a good idea.