Is Argan Oil Really That Interesting?

In it’s home country of Morocco, argan oil is mainly used as a food.  Moroccans dip their bread in it and also use it in pasta dishes and couscous.  However, outside of Morrocco, the oil is being pitched as having either age-defying properties in makeup, or heart health benefits as a gourmet food.

This flaxen colored oil is made by hand, starting with the fruit of the thorny Argan tree from the southwest region of Morocco.  It’s claimed cosmetic properties include relieving rough, dry skin and emparting your hair with a deep shine.  Some retailers go farther, making claims that it’s an anti-aging wonder oil, but there’s little evidence to support that claim thus far.

When eaten, studies show that the oil may produce  health benefits similar to that of olive oil. Maryland’s Center for Preventive Cardiology in Baltimore acknowledges that’s it’s “encouraging”, but waves off further questions saying that it’s still too early to tell.

To produce traditional argan oil, Moroccan women first remove the outer layer of the fruit, and then use a rock somewhat like a pharmacy pestle to beat the argan nut and remove it’s kernels.  It’s these kernels that produce the oil . If the oil is being prepared for a meal, the women will  roast the kernels before running them through a  press, in a process somewhat similar to making coffee beans.

The basis for the health claims probably lies in the rich stores of  vitamin E  as well as an omega fatty acid (linoleic acid) that works as an anti-inflammatory.  Dermatologists confirm that antioxidants can protect your skin from sun damage, but they aren’t convinced that argan oil would penetrate deep enough into your skin to deliver the protection.  This is because oily substances typically only sit on the surface of your skin.

Our advice?  Since Morrocans have been consuming it for thousands of years, it’s certainly not a health risk.  However, it is quite expensive, so we would advise waiting until more studies are done to confirm the claimed benefits.  Olive oil is a less expensive choice for now.

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