Don’t let the name fool you -- most truffle oil does not contain even a morsel of truffle, the expensive fungi with a distinctive taste. Truffle oil actually contains olive oil, a beneficial but hardly exotic oil, and chemicals that add the smell of truffles to the oil without the price tag. The medicinal benefits of truffle oil, in other words, are the same as olive oil, because that’s what truffle oil is, in most cases, although other oils such as sunflower or grapeseed can also make up the base.
Chemicals such as 2,4-dithiapentane create the flavor of truffle oil, according to a May 2007 article in “The New York Times.” Manufacturers add different flavoring to create the aromas of both black and white truffles in oil. Chemicals add nothing to the medicinal benefits of olive oil, which include lowering the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels.
Unlike olive oil or other unsaturated fats, you don’t actually cook with truffle oil. Instead, you drizzle it over food or add a few drops just to impart the taste of truffles to whatever dish you’re making. Because this adds very little oil to the dish, the health benefits of the oil base, be it olive oil or another unsaturated fat, are probably minimal.
Olive Oil Benefits
Manufacturers most often use olive oil, which contains large amounts of monounsaturated fat, as the base for truffle oil. Monounsaturated fats may have more benefit in lowering low-density lipoprotein, the unhealthy form of cholesterol, than polyunsaturated fats such as corn oil, according to the Go Ask Alice website. Other benefits of olive oil include decreasing the tendency of platelets to clump together, which forms clots in the blood vessels, and possibly reducing insulin levels, which helps you control your blood glucose levels if you have type 2 diabetes.
Truffle oil has the same health benefits as the oil it’s made with. Truffle oil made with high-quality olive oil will have more health benefits than truffle oil made with slightly less healthy oils such as sunflower or safflower oils. Since you use this oil so sparingly, do not expect the same benefits you might see from using it in salads or cooking with it on a regular basis.
- The New York Times; Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles; Daniel Patterson; March 2007
- Bon Appetit: Truffle Oil
- MayoClinic.com; Olive Oil: What Are the Health Benefits?; Donald Hensrud, M.D.; March 2011
- GoAskAlice!; Difference Between Olive Oil and Corn Oil; December 2010
- AskDrSears.com: Ranking Oils from Best to Worst