Because edible gold is chemically inert you can eat gold with a purity above 23 karats.
However edible gold has not taste and no nutritional value.
You’ve seen it on Instagram. Beautiful sushi and desserts with delicate gold leaf sprinkled on top like a fairy’s treasure.
It looks so fancy and a little bit ridiculous too. But can you eat gold?
Pink ice cream with gold leaf ice cream
I bet you have looked at your shining gold jewelry and wonder if it’s edible. Could the same gold used for gold jewelry be edible? After all, those Instagram posts seem enticing.
And wouldn’t you love to post a picture of taking a bite into the trend? I’m sure you do.
Turns out this precious metal is edible but should you consider having a snack?
We’ll explore everything about eating gold and whether you should chow down on donuts glazed with 24 karat sheets.
Goldschlager bottles with gold flakes
The Glittering History of Edible Gold
Gold has been used as currency, jewelry, and decoration for centuries. But what you may not know is that humans have also been eating gold leaf and other forms of edible gold for just as long!
Gold leaf has been a food ingredient for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. The shiny pure gold flakes add a touch of luxury and decadence to any dish. But where did this tradition start? And how has it evolved over the years?
The habit of eating gold dates back to the 2nd millennium BC. Egyptians used to do it to achieve divinity since the skin tone of their gods was gold-colored. Ancient people in Far Eastern civilization also used to eat gold for the same purpose: to summon gods’ favor.
As far as the use of gold in food and drinks for decoration, the credit goes to Japanese people. They used gold flakes in sake and gold powder to garnish unique dishes.
Sushi roll with gold leaf
The tradition entered Europe in the Middle Ages in the hands of the aristocrats. They used to throw grand banquets and serve gold-covered dishes. The custom of wrapping candies and medicine pills with pure gold leaves started in the 16th century.
The craze subsided after the 17th century but was revived in 1981 by the celebrated chef Gualtiero Marchesi. He gave edible gold a new lease on life by serving his renowned dish saffron risotto with gold leaf.
Since then, edible gold has become a popular ingredient in high-end cuisine. Top chefs continue to use edible gold in their creations. They often incorporate the ingredient into the food itself, rather than just adding a garnish (like a piece of gold leaf) on top of it.
Is It Safe to Eat Gold?
Edible gold is still considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. But is it safe to eat gold?
You’re probably wondering, “What about all those people who eat 24-karat gold leaf for fun?” Well, like in jewelry, karats matter: there’s a big difference between eating 24k and 22- or 18k gold.
“Edible gold must be 23-24 carats,” says New York-based registered dietitian Alexandra Oppenheimer. It’s because impure gold could be toxic because of other metals mixed in it.
Gold is not a harmful element in and of itself. It’s also inert, so it does not react with anything inside your digestive tract. There is no FDA guideline about gold eating, but CDC declares it non-poisonous.
The European Food Safety Administration (EFSA) has approved Gold (E-175) as a food additive for consumption. It is considered as a gold coloring that works like any other food coloring and additive.
So, if you want to eat your gold safely, make sure it’s 100% pure!
Health Benefits of Eating Gold
Japanese style castella cake with gold leaf
Some people believe that there are health benefits to consuming gold, while others think it’s all hype. It’s clarity and energy levels. The beauty industry also rates it highly for various skincare routines. But what does science say? Let’s explore the truth.
Eating gold was a norm in the 19th century for treating depression, migraine, and the immune system. For thousands of years, Indian Ayurveda has used gold ash for treating infertility. While some small-scale scientific studies have supported these claims, for gold and some other precious metals, there’s nothing conclusive yet.
Woman getting gold facial mask
A 2015 study found positive effects of consuming gold salt in treating rheumatoid arthritis. While the salt does not actively treat the condition, it slows down the progress.
The beauty industry is in high praise of gold skincare these days. Gold is believed to revive youthful skin and slow down age-related symptoms. Gold leaf oil and gold facials are highly popular among beauty-conscious people.
These health and skin benefits of gold are primarily advertisements. Scientific evidence to base the claims is still inadequate. However, you may still get some positive effects if you are not allergic to the metal.
So What’s the Taste of Gold?
For centuries, gold has been treated as a valuable object. It’s a symbol of social status and luxury. But what does edible gold taste like? Is it metallic? Sweet? Savory? We’ll also take a look at some of the most creative ways to use this luxurious ingredient!
Gold doesn’t taste like anything. It has no flavor of its own. It’s added to food as a means of luxury and its perceived health benefits. You will only get the taste of the food itself. So, gold-sprinkled ice cream will taste sweet while sushi will be savory.
Edible gold is a thin sheet of pure 24-carat gold and can come in flakes, leaves, dust, and color spray form. It’s often used to decorate desserts like cakes, donuts, and ice cream but can also be used in main courses and cocktails.
The use of edible gold has become increasingly popular in recent years, as people have looked for new and innovative ways to add luxury to their food. And it’s not just for the wealthy elite anymore.
Where Can You Buy Edible Gold?
Edible gold leaf for sale
Edible gold is available in various forms. Flakes and leaves are the most common and popular for food decoration. However, it’s also used in dust and spray form, mainly for adding flavor and color to various dishes.
Edible Gold sheets come in two variations: transfer and edible gold loose leaf. The first one is used as a whole to cover large food items, such as cakes and steaks. Loose leaf is mostly used for decorating desserts. Its small pieces go into garnishing candies, chocolates, and other sweet items.
Gold sheets are also used in art and crafting projects. Gold leafing or gilding is quite common and popular in art projects. It’s nothing but pressing golden sheets over a surface.
Gold leaf sheets for art projects are not pure gold. They are primarily 22k or lower grades, making them unsuitable for eating.
Where to Buy
Loose leaf edible gold sheets 24 karat
Edible gold leaves, sheets and flakes are available in large retail stores and baking shops. You will also find them in art supply stores but they are unlikely to be edible.
It’s essential to buy from a credible source because eating impure gold ore impure gold dust can cause severe health problems. If you are into the food business, you may face legal troubles for using low-grade gold sheets.
The sheets are primarily available in a square shape. Each edible gold leaf can range from 1.5 to 5.5 inches, and one pack contains 10 to 100 sheets.
Flakes are sold in containers or jars, and each one holds 100ml to 1g of flakes.
Food items wrapped or decorated with gold are some of the priciest you can ask for. But the gold sheets themselves are not that expensive. A pack of 25 sheets (24k pure gold) of loose leaf is available for around $50. One jar of edible gold flakes may cost approximately $30 to $40.
Edible gold leaf transfered on a chocolate truffle
On the other hand, a gold-leaf pack of 100 sheets will cost around $10 to $20. However, the price is for imitation gold, and you have to pay a little more for 22k or 18k sheets. For a twist, you can also find some gold and silver leaf packs.
The price could differ slightly depending on the size of the sheets and where you buy from.
You may find some cheap alternatives. But be careful because they may contain impurities.
FAQs About Eating Gold
Q. What Happens If You Eat Gold?
A. If you eat edible gold leaves, nothing happens. Gold (like silver) is considered to be chemically inert, so nothing gets absorbed in the digestive system.
Q. Why Do People Eat Gold?
A. In ancient times, people used to eat gold for religious purposes. Consuming it is believed to have various health benefits. But modern people eat gold-sprinkled dishes only to experience a glimpse of decadence.
Q. Does Gold Taste Good?
A. Gold does not taste good or bad. Gold (like silver) is considered to be chemically inert, so it’s neutral: gold in the form of edible gold leaves, dust or flakes has no flavor.
Q. Is It Toxic to Eat Gold?
A. Gold (like silver) is considered to be chemically inert, and the CDC has declared it as a non-toxic metal. So it is not toxic to eat edible gold. However, there could be adverse reactions if you eat edible gold mixed with other toxic materials.