Argan oil is a premier super-food oil with health benefits in both food and cosmetic uses, as well as a rich, nutty taste.
Have you seen those pictures on Facebook of goats climbing trees? Those goats are eating argan (Argania spinose) nuts from the trees in Morocco.
The goats ingest the argan nuts. The nuts are then peeled in the rumen of the goats and the oil rich kernels are spit out with their cud. The goat peeled argan nuts retain the goat scent on the kernels, which are then pressed to capture the argan oil. Alternatively, women from a woman’s cooperative collect the nuts and shell them by hand, a laborious process. If the thought of putting goat spit argan oil on your face or hair grosses you out, you may want to look to Israel for your argan oil needs.
In Israel, near the Dead Sea, Oren Farm grows argan trees and processes the argan nuts using specially engineered equipment that preserves all the health benefits of the argan oil without the goat-peeled grossness and loss of quality.
Argan oil is high in antioxidants, rich in tocopherols (vitamin E), medium chain fatty acids, carotenoids, squalene, and oleic acid. Argan oil is scientifically shown to be antitumor, anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant, antiviral, cardio-protective, anti-aging, hepato-protective, and anti-diabetic. It reduces cholesterol and is also anti-inflammatory.
When used topically in skin preparations argan oil is known to combat zits, slow down wrinkles, and is useful in treating skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, skin inflammation, scabies, shingles, and chickenpox. It heals burns and scrapes, prevents hair loss, and hair thinning and helps with joint pain.
With an iodine value of 91 to 110, argan oil is a semi-drying oil. It can be used in DIY cosmetic recipes in the same way as sesame oil or wheat germ oil.
Argan oil is the cold pressed oil extracted from the nuts of the argan tree (Argania spinose), a shrubby, thorny, tree that grows in the dry climate of Morocco and in Israel. 6 to 8 mature argan trees in Israel produce 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of nuts, enough for just 1 quart of argan oil. The nuts are harvested from the trees and shelled, peeled, and then the nut kernel is pressed to obtain the oil.
Argan oil is one of the more expensive liquid oils because it is both rare and difficult to obtain from the nut. The hard shell of the argan nut is very difficult to crack. In the rumen of the goat the shell is digested and the kernel is peeled. The kernel is reclaimed as the goat spits out its cud in Morocco. But in Israel specially engineered equipment is used to crack the hard nuts, peel them, sort them, and then express the oil from the kernel, resulting in a superior cold pressed oil with higher antioxidants.
Edible argan oil is pressed from nuts that have been briefly heated to stop the oxidation process. This gives the oil a nutty flavor. The brief heat treatment also preserves the oil and prevents oxidation and rancidity in the oil. Heat treated argan oils from Israel have a shelf life in excess of two years without refrigeration. Goat peeled argan oil won’t last as long.
Constituents of argan oil
Argan oil contains:
48% oleic acid
35% linoleic acid
2% stearic acid
15% palmitic acid
The beneficial constituents of argan oil are presumed to be its specific polyphenol, squalene and tocopherol content. See this article by French scientists for more information.
Since argan is a tree nut, those who are allergic to tree nuts should exercise caution before using argan oil topically or internally. Avoid if you know you have an allergy to argan oil, other tree nuts, or peanuts.
How to use argan oil
Argan oil is useful in anti-aging facial serums, hair conditioners, and shampoos. But it is also a useful oil to take internally for its therapeutic benefits. Israeli scientists found that argan oil is useful to prevent prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers. The daily serving used in the study was 10 ml for men and 8ml for women. (Information from Oren farm, Israel) Generally the heat treated, cold processed argan oil is used for cooking and internal use, because of its rich, nutty flavor, while the unheated oil is used for cosmetic purposes. When mechanically processed both oils are high quality with the heat treated, cold processed oil having a longer shelf life.
When used in salad dressings, argan oil has a fresh, nutty flavor. Try using argan oil combined with a high quality virgin olive oil in salad dressings. Since it is an expensive oil, stretching it with virgin olive oil will allow you to capture the health benefits while controlling the expense.Print
This salad dressing captures all the health benefits of argan oil while stretching this rare oil with olive oil, another health promoting oil. Use it on tossed salad or Israeli salad.
- 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
- 1 teaspoon mint leaves
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 2 tablespoons toasted argan oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Remove from their stems and finely chop rosemary and mint leaves using a sharp blade.
- Crush and peel a garlic clove. Press the clove through a garlic press. Add it to the salad dressing bottle.
- Pour argan oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice into the dressing bottle. Shake well. Allow to sit for 1 hour in the fridge to macerate the flavors.
- Shake before using.
- Serve over green salad, Israeli salad, or Greek salad.
Argan oil-balsamic mint salad dressing
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon mint leaves
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons toasted argan oil
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Remove from their stems and finely chop rosemary and mint leaves using a sharp blade. Crush and peel a garlic clove. Press the clove through a garlic press. Add it to the salad dressing bottle. Pour argan oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice into the dressing bottle. Shake well. Allow to sit for 1 hour in the fridge to macerate the flavors. Shake before using. Serve over green salad, Israeli salad, or Greek salad.
Don’t shy away from cold pressed argan oil because of the high price tag. Argan oil has health benefits and anti-aging benefits not found in other precious oils.
Oren farm in Israel is growing argan trees in the desert near the Dead Sea. The trees are not demanding of irrigation and thrive in the dry climate. They are useful for reclaiming the landscape as well as for their therapeutic nuts.
I recently had the privilege of talking to Silvi Oren and her son at Moshav Netiv HaGdud, near the Dead Sea at their Argan Oil Visitor’s Centre, where I learned about the health benefits of argan oil and the unique way that Silvi and her family extract the precious oil from their argan nuts, that preserves the antioxidant qualities and health benefits of the argan oil. Culinary argan oil from the Oren’s farm is nutty and fresh tasting, with a clear amber color while their cosmetic argan oil is clear and light in color, with no rancidity and very little scent.
Dig deeper into argan oil health benefits with these references:
Awad AB, Fink CS (2000) Phytosterols as anticancer dietary components: evidence and mechanism of action. J Nutr 130:2127–2130
Berrougui H, Alvarez de Sotomayor M, Perrez-Guerrero C, Ettaib A, Hmamouchi M, Marhuenda E, Herrera MD (2004) Argan (Argania spinosa) oil lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial dysfunction in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Br J Nutr 92:921–929
Charrouf Z, Guillaume D (1999) Ethnoeconomical, ethnomedical and phytochemical study of Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels. J Ethnopharmacol 67:7–14
El Monfalouti H, Guillaume D, Denhez C, Charrouf Z (2010) Therapeutic potential of argan oil. A review. J Pharm Pharmacol 62:1669–1675
Guillaume D, Charrouf Z (2011) Argan oil and other argan products; use in cosmetology. Eur J Lipid Sci Technol. doi:10.1002/ejlt.201000417
Harhar, H., Gharby, S., Kartah, B. et al. Plant Foods Hum Nutr (2011) 66: 163. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11130-011-0220-x
Khalloukhi F, Younos C, Soulimani R, Oster T, Charrouf Z, Spiegelhalder B, Bartsch H, Owen RW (2003) Consumption of argan oil (Morocco) with its unique profile of fatty acids, tocopherols, squalene, sterols and phenolic compounds should confer valuable cancer chemopreventive effects. Eur J Cancer Prev 12:67–75
Menendez JA, Vellon L, Colomer R, Lupu R (2005) Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, suppresses her-2/neu (erb b-2) expression and synergistically enhances the growth inhibitory effects of trastuzumab (herceptin™) in breast cancer cells with her-2/neu oncogene amplification. Ann Oncol 16:359–371
NECIB, Youcef; BAHI, Ahlem; ZERIZER, Sakina. Argan oil (Argania spinosa L) Provides protection against mercuric. International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 73-80, dec. 2012. ISSN 2227-5053. Available at: <https://www.sciencepubco.com/index.php/ijbas/article/view/540>. Date accessed: 01 oct. 2017. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14419/ijbas.v2i1.540.