Answer: Argan oil is arguably the oil of the year. It comes from the nut of the argan tree which is found primarily in Morocco. In North Africa argan oil is used as a dip for bread, in salads as well as in skin and hair care products. Argan seeds destined for eating are toasted to bring out the nutty flavor. When seeds are used for cosmetics, they skip the toasting step.
Argan seeds are a tough nut to crack ( pun not really intended) They have to cracked by hand and the entire extraction process is long and labor intensive. This, plus the fact that the argan tree is now on the endangered list, make argan oil one of the rarest ( and thus most expensive) oils on the market.
Health Benefits of Argan Oil
Argan oil is packed with omega six fatty acids. It is actually almost 40% linoleic acid– the most effective anti-wrinkling oil according to the NHANES study. Pure argan oil is also rich in a range of anti-oxidants including vitamin E, carotenes, and phenols. Studies done with volunteers found that adding argan oil to the diet lowered both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Other studies suggested that argan oil could be as heart healthy as olive oil– but at a much higher price tag.
Beauty Benefits of Argan Oil
Moroccan women have a long tradition of using argan oil to soften sun dried skin and hair. Linoleic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory properties maknig it an excellent choice for irritated or sensitive skin. Argan oil mixes well with other cosmetic ingredients and softens without excessive oiliness. In a shampoo and or conditioner this means it can add shine and flexibility without making the hair flat or greasy.
The challenge is to find genuine Argan oil products. You can find 100% Argan oil in health food stores while other products have only a drop or two of this unique oil. Be cautious of products labeled Moroccan oil which is often a mixture of some Argan oil and who knows what else.
Bottom line: Argan oil has a lot going for it. It makes elegant products and is a welcome addition to your healthy foods list. Just be sure you’re getting the real thing.