Truffle Oil- Benefits, Uses & Side Effects
Truffle oil has a number of uses and potential health benefits including its ability to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve circulation, decrease inflammation, boost antioxidant levels and strengthen the immune system. Depending on the type of truffle oil you get, synthetic or pure, different health benefits will be available to you. In terms of side effects, it can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar and blood pressure, while also generating allergic reactions and skin inflammation in some people.
The vast majority of truffle oil that you see on the shelves of high-end grocery stores and on the menus of fancy restaurants does not actually contain any truffles. For those who don’t know, truffles are a type of mushroom which are highly priced and known for their rarity and unique flavor in food. From the Tuber genus, truffles are known as one of the most expensive foods on the planet, and with pure truffle oil selling for as much as $90 per ounce, manufacturers have found a way to tap into that luxury market. By adding a chemical compound found in truffles – 2,4 – dithiapentane – to simple virgin olive oil, “truffle oil” can mimic the flavor of truffles at a fraction of the cost. Pure truffle oil, which would provide a slightly different set of health benefits, is much less common and far more expensive. Most of the time, any health benefits derived from truffle oil are the same as what you would get with olive oil (grape seed oil is also occasionally used as a base), but the price would likely be higher.
Uses for Truffle Oil
Despite the inauthenticity of most commonly used truffle oils, they are widely used in food preparation, often as salad dressings, mixed in with pasta sauces, on pizza, blended with eggs, topping chicken or fish, and even as a flavorful addition to popcorn or other snacks. Unlike most other vegetable oils, truffle oil is rarely cooked with. This is due to the expensive nature of this oil, and the fact that the flavor can easily be compromised. Instead, it is used as a finishing oil in most cases, drizzled on top of a meal after it has been prepared to deliver a final burst of truffle flavor.
Health Benefits of Truffle Oil
People who are suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, poor circulation and a weak immune system, as well as those who are at high risk of cancer and chronic diseases, use truffle oil. However, it is important to note that many truffle oils on the market don’t deliver any of the health benefits of actual truffles but merely the flavor of those valuable mushrooms.
Heart Health: Olive oil, from which the majority of truffle oil is derived, has high levels of monounsaturated fats and is able to balance cholesterol levels by reducing LDL-cholesterol, the “bad” form of fatty acids. This can result in a lower risk for cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Furthermore, the pure form of this oil has been linked to lower blood pressure, which can reduce strain on the blood vessels and arteries.
Inflammation: Truffles possess strong anti-inflammatory qualities, making them excellent for joint pain and arthritis, as well as gastrointestinal distress, respiratory infections, and skin irritation. This is one of the few times that people may use truffle oil as a topical remedy, rather than consuming it directly. Both pure oil and synthetic truffle oil will aid inflammation to a certain degree.
Circulation: Truffle oil has shown some anticoagulant abilities, making it very good for circulation, and a protector of heart health. This will reduce the chances of developing clots in the body, while also ensuring proper oxygenation and delivery of resources to various parts of the body.
Diabetes: Olive oil has a proven ability to lower blood sugar levels, which is a good news for diabetic patients or those at high risk of the disease. Considering that truffle oil is typically made of olive oil or grape seed oil with truffle flavoring, this culinary oil can also have a minimal impact on controlling blood sugar levels. Such a small amount of this oil is used in most applications, however, that this benefit will not always be obvious.
Antioxidant Effects: Truffles are rich in antioxidants and have been linked to the prevention of tumor formation. Therefore, pure truffle oil may possess similar properties but research is limited. Olive oil also has certain antioxidant properties, making even the truffle oil most commonly found in stores which are good for preventing chronic disease and lowering the risk of cancer.
Immune System: If you are cooking with true truffle oil, then you will also benefit from the potent antibacterial quality of those mushrooms. This can help strengthen the immune system from the inside out, including your gut, respiratory system and mouth. Inexpensive versions of this oil, made from primarily olive oil, will not have as strong of an antibacterial effect.
Side Effects of Truffle Oil
There are a few potential side effects of truffle oil, including skin inflammation and complications with various medications and medical conditions.
- Blood Pressure – Since truffle oil is primarily made from olive oil with truffle flavor or concentrate, it possesses the same blood pressure-lowering properties of olive oil. However, for someone already on blood pressure medication, this can cause a dangerous drop and cause hypotension, which can also be dangerous.
- Blood Sugar – Similarly, truffle oil has the ability to regulate insulin and glucose levels in the body and decrease blood sugar. For diabetics on blood sugar-lowering medication, this can result in hypoglycemia – a state where your blood sugar is too low.
- Skin Irritation – Skin irritation can occur when using this oil, although few people use truffle oil for topical applications. However, in terms of simple topical dermatitis and irritation, people with sensitive skin may want to stay away from this oil.
- Gastrointestinal Problems – When consumed in large amounts, truffle oil can cause gastrointestinal distress in the form of stomachaches, diarrhea, nausea and even vomiting. That being said, truffle oil is usually applied in moderation to foods, as the flavor is quite powerful. Excess of one tablespoon per day is not recommended.