Argan oil health benefits includes fighting inflammation, improving heart health, reducing risk of mental health problems, improving digestive health, supporting weight loss and fat oxidation, improving cognitive performance and fighting cancer. Other benefits include maintaining skin moisture, repairing hair, fighting skin cancer and treating aging spots.
Argan oil has traditionally been used in cooking and cosmetics, as well as some medicines such as salves. These traditional uses are a clue to the fantastic health benefits it can provide. Native to Morocco (as well as Israel) the oil is extracted from the nutrient-dense kernels of the Argan plant, which can live up to 200 years. Argan has been used in both cooking and cosmetic roles for centuries. The benefits to consuming this oil cover a variety of health and fitness improvements, as well as various skincare perks. There are very few side-effects or health concerns associated with Argan. In this article, we’re going to discuss all of this in detail and show you why Argan should be in your diet.
What is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is the oil that is found in the kernels and seeds of the Argan plant. Argan oil is actually a combination of a variety of other oils, primarily Oleic, Alpha-linoleic, palmitic and linoleic acids. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) is an Omega-3 oil and linoleic acid is an Omega-6 acid, meaning that Argan oil contains high quantities of ‘essential’ fatty acids – fats that the body can’t produce for itself. Argan is popular due to its applications in a variety of situations and the fact that, if properly processed from the seed, it is more stable than other common oils like Olive oil.
Argan Oil Health benefits
The health benefits of Argan are mostly important when it is consumed – either by mixing into a paste (called Amlou in Moroccan cuisine) or eating it as a dressing oil (on breads and salads, similar to olive oil) – but we will also discuss the cosmetic benefits. After all, the skin is the largest organ and skin health is an important part of overall health and wellness.
1. Protects against Inflammation
The high concentration of ALA in Argan oil is one of the best health benefits – this is an Omega-3 fatty acid, which improves various health markers. ALA and other Omega-3 fats have a beneficial effect in combatting inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation in the tissues of the brain reduces the likelihood of suffering with a degenerative brain disease during aging – this means a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Linoleic acid is an Omega-6 fat. Whilst these are also “essential” in the sense that the body cannot produce them, they are not quite as beneficial as the 3s. In the right proportion, they can assist in the health benefits that we associate with Omega-3s, but too many of them can promote inflammation, which is generally a bad thing. Some Omega-6s are important but make sure to get at least as many 3s as 6s to maintain optimal health.
2. Improves Overall Heart Health
In the long term, proper intake of Omega 3 fats can reduce the risk of heart problems by significantly improving the concentrations of various fats in the bloodstream. Fats are always going to be in the bloodstream and perform some essential functions, but excessive cholesterol or triglycerides (Hyperlipidemia) can cause serious heart problems. Omega 3 fats in the diet can reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides, whilst increasing ‘good’ cholesterols.
3. Reduces risk of Mental Health Problems
Omega-3 consumption can also combat the risks and symptoms depression whilst improving general mood. As approximately ¼ of people under 25 experience depression at some point, the importance of increasing Omega-3 fats is something we should all consider. These are huge benefits and should be enough reason to up your intake of Argan and other Omega-3 sources!
4. Improves Digestive Health
Oils have also been used to improve the health of the digestive system over the years – whilst this is not specific to Omega-3 fats, Argan contains a variety of oils that have positive effects on the health and regularity of the digestive system. Fat is bound to fiber during the digestive process and is necessary for the proper processing and excretion of food, meaning that a proper intake of healthy oils can reduce the stress placed on the digestive system and improve the gut bacteria profile.
5. Weight Loss and Fat Oxidation
Catechins are a group of phenols found in a number of plant foods and other foodstuffs. These are usually discussed in relation to green tea, which is incredibly rich in catechins and other powerful health-improving chemicals, but they also appear in Argan oil. EGCG is the most important and effective of these compounds, with positive effects on fat oxidation and reduction of fat mass.
6. Metabolism and Cognitive Performance
There are also some studies suggesting that EGCG and other catechins might provide some positive effects on other health markers like cholesterol profile, circulation, metabolism and mental performance, though these are not miracle compounds. Whilst it is important to wait and see what future research says about these effects, there’s definitely no risk to Argan and the possibility of improving these markers are a good reason to try!
7. Great Anti-Oxidants
Caffeic acid is a powerful anti-oxidant and can reduce the inflammatory processes in the body, improving feelings of wellness and reducing risk factors for various other diseases It is a mild stimulant, though it is totally unrelated to caffeine. Primarily, caffeic acid found in Argan oil has been shown to reduce the aggression of cancer cells in vitro, though there is a lack of evidence on its application to humans. As an anti-oxidant, however, it can reduce the likelihood of cell damage which can cause cancers, so we believe this is still a huge benefit of Argan.
8. Fights Cancer and the Dangers of Aging
Gamma-Tocopherol is a powerful chemopreventative and anti-oxidant agent, protecting against cell damage that can contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and degenerative organ failures. This compound is found in Argan oil far more than any other comparable oil, and is our favorite reason to use Argan: cooking with Argan can improve resistance to common diseases and improve health in a way that many of us need. Gamma-TP is also protective against the threat of heart problems – heart attack, heart disease and atherosclerosis (the blocking of arteries by plaque) – as it improves the lipid profile of the blood.
9. Skin Maintenance and Moisturizing
Argan has long been used in the treatment of skin condition and the maintenance of proper skin health. Mediterranean cultures have placed a large focus on the oils of Olives, Argan and Castor for millenia – with reports going back to Homer of oils being used to treat kings and noblemen after bathing. Argan is a moisturizing agent, protecting from weather and climate damage, as well as rheumatisms and minor burns in some cases. Those who are recovering from sunburn may benefit from applying Argan to the area after the initial blistering has ceased.
10. Fights Skin Cancer and Aging Spots
The natural chemical composition of Argan oil can combat the development of skin melanomas and other early-stage precursors to skin cancer. Beyond this, it can actually reduce the appearance of age spots, scars, mild dermatitis and classical acne outbreaks. Combined with the moisturizing, elastic-protecting properties mentioned above, Argan has wonderful effects on the appearance and health of skin.
11. Repairs Hair
As mentioned above, Argan and other oils have been used in human grooming practices for millenia, but this does not just include the skin: the use of oils to treat damage to hair also stretches back to ancient times. Oils can be directly applied to the hair in order to improve its condition and protect against split ends, but when consumed as part of the diet it contains a large quantity of Vitamin E which is used in the maintenance and production of new follicles. Whether you’re cooking with Argan oil or applying it straight to your skin and hair, it will improve the look and health of the body.
The effectiveness of Argan oil for cosmetic purposes has resulted in a huge boom in popularity: the market for Argan-based skin treatments and products grew by 5000% between 2007 and 2011 – this speaks to the kind of effects that we can expect from Argan oil.
Argan oil can be widely purchased – the choice of distillation method determines how much is produced from seeds and what the composition will be, but the best brands should be 100% pure. Argan oil can be purchased inexpensively from most good grocery stores. Use is dependent on what the goal is: obviously, there is a big difference between cooking with Argan and using it as a treatment for dry skin!
Argan Oil as a cooking oil is a fantastic way to improve the intake of various important nutrients and improve health, but it is important to remember that oils are incredibly high in calories – higher than any other foodstuff. Adding them to low-calorie foods like Couscous can be a great way to add flavor and health benefits, but be careful to consume them in moderation or it is very easy to consume too much. Consuming Argan as part of a health and balanced diet is an excellent choice. There do not appear to be any serious concerns about the side effects of Argan oil, though if you have any concerns please consult your health professional.