Want to know why argan oil is often referred to as ‘liquid gold’? Yes, partly because of its price but more likely because it has amazing health benefits which range from heart health to skin and from hair to nails. It is expensive because it can take up to one day to produce just one liter!
It comes from Morocco and also some regions of Algeria. The tree is known as the Argania spinosa (shown above) and bears nuts which are a cross between walnuts and almonds. The oil is pressed from the nuts in a long and laborious process. It is extracted as a paste which is then sent for pressing to Agadir. Many women’s co-operatives have become involved, since traditionally, it has always been a woman’s work. By buying pure argan oil from one of these co-operatives, you can support women’s business initiatives which are quite rare in this part of the world.
The trees themselves are a goldmine in that they can last for up to 400 years and rarely need much attention. It is no wonder that the Berbers refer to this marvelous tree as ‘The Tree of Life’. Here are 10 amazing benefits of argan oil you never knew about.
1. It contains the healthiest fat
Most of the unhealthy saturated fats we consume come from dairy and milk. But the healthiest fats of all are the polyunsaturated ones and they are fund in nuts, fish, olive oil and sesame oil. But argan oil beats all these hands down as it contains 80 percent. The neurosurgeon at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Dr.Philip Stieg, regards this as a new super food.
2. It is a great skin conditioner
Moroccan women have used this oil on their skin for centuries. Because it has such a high vitamin E content, tocopehrols and saponins, it can help to moisten and rejuvenate tired and aging skin. It is also great for rough heels, diaper rash and brittle nails. It can help with eczema, acne and even psoriasis.
3. It is a wonderful salad dressing
Moroccans use this oil as a dressing for their salads and their couscous. It is also used for a paste like tahini (called amlou) which is great for hummus and other Arab delicacies.
4. It can help heart health
One experiment was conducted whereby 60 men were given both olive oil and argan oil for 20 days. Their levels of antioxidants rose significantly which could be a key factor in staving off heart disease. This is mentioned in the Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases journal.
5. It can help heal scars
Because argan oil contains twice as much Vitamin E (tocopehrols) than other oils, this is ideal for smoothing skin to get rid of acne scars, knife scars and even burn scars. It boosts the collagen making processes in the skin and this is why it is so effective for maintaining a healthy epidermis.
6. It can help to lower cholesterol
Argan oil also contains certain types of phytosterols (plant sterols) which are not found in olive and sesame oil, for example. Taking the right dose of these phytosterols (approximately 2 grams daily) over a three week period can lower cholesterol by about 10 percent. Argan oil is a great source of these plant sterols.
7. It can help to prevent chronic diseases
There is sufficient evidence to show that flavonoids from plant foods can play a decisive role in helping to ward off chronic disease such as diabetes. But more studies are needed to show that the flavonoids can actually do the job when consumed by humans.
8. It may help prevent cancer
Oleic acids and phenolics which are present in argan oil have been studied. There is strong evidence to show that they are important in preventing certain types of cancers.
9. It has no side effects
10. The purest oil on the market
Which oil contains no chemicals, parabens, gluten and doubtful preservatives? Argan oil. It is a fact that it can last up to 20 years as Moroccan women have found. Which oil is ideal for vegans and is almost completely sustainable? Argan oil. Need I go on?
Featured photo credit: Argana/Christine Boose via flickr.com