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12 Benefits and Uses of Argan Oil

12 Benefits and Uses of Argan Oil

Argan oil has been a culinary staple in Morocco for centuries — not only because of its subtle, nutty flavor but also its wide array of potential health benefits.

This naturally occurring plant oil is derived from the kernels of the fruit of the argan tree.

Although native to Morocco, argan oil is now used across the globe for a variety of culinary, cosmetic and medicinal applications.

This article explains 12 of the most prominent health benefits and uses of argan oil.

1. Contains Essential Nutrients

Argan oil is primarily comprised of fatty acids and a variety of phenolic compounds.

The majority of the fat content of argan oil comes from oleic and linoleic acid (1).

Approximately 29–36% of the fatty acid content of argan oil comes from linoleic acid, or omega-6, making it a good source of this essential nutrient (1).

Oleic acid, though not essential, makes up 43–49% of the fatty acid composition of argan oil and is also a very healthy fat. Found in olive oil as well, oleic acid is renowned for its positive impact on heart health (1, 2).

Additionally, argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E, which is required for healthy skin, hair and eyes. This vitamin also has powerful antioxidant properties (1).

 

2. Has Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The various phenolic compounds in argan oil are likely responsible for most of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities.

Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, or tocopherol, a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as a potent antioxidant to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals (1).

Other compounds present in argan oil, such as CoQ10, melatonin and plant sterols, also play a role in its antioxidant capacity (3, 4, 5).

A recent study revealed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers in mice fed argan oil prior to exposure to a highly inflammatory liver toxin, compared to the control group (6).

Additionally, some research indicates that argan oil can also be applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation caused by injuries or infections (7).

Although these results are encouraging, more research is needed to understand how argan oil can be used medicinally in humans to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

3. May Boost Heart Health

Argan oil is a rich source of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated, omega-9 fat (1).

Oleic acid is also present in several other foods, including avocado and olive oils, and is often credited with heart-protective effects (2, 8).

One small human study noted that argan oil was comparable to olive oil in its capacity to reduce heart disease risk through its impact on antioxidant levels in the blood (9).

In another small human study, a higher intake of argan oil was associated with lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher blood levels of antioxidants (10).

In a study on heart disease risk in 40 healthy people, those who consumed 15 grams of argan oil daily for 30 days experienced a 16% and 20% reduction in “bad” LDL and triglyceride levels, respectively (11).

Although these results are promising, larger studies are necessary to better understand how argan oil may support heart health in humans.

4. May Have Benefits for Diabetes

Some early animal research indicates argan oil may help prevent diabetes.

Two studies resulted in a significant reduction in both fasting blood sugar and insulin resistancein mice fed a high-sugar diet alongside argan oil (12, 13).

These studies largely attributed these benefits to the antioxidant content of the oil.

However, such results do not necessarily imply that the same effects would be seen in humans. Therefore, human research is needed.

5. May Have Anticancer Effects

Argan oil may slow the growth and reproduction of certain cancer cells.

One test-tube study applied polyphenolic compounds from argan oil to prostate cancer cells. The extract inhibited cancer cell growth by 50% compared to the control group (14).

In another test-tube study, a pharmaceutical-grade mixture of argan oil and vitamin E increased the rate of cell death on breast and colon cancer cell samples (15).

Although this preliminary research is intriguing, more research is needed to determine whether argan oil could be used to treat cancer in humans.

6. May Reduce Signs of Skin Aging

Argan oil has quickly become a popular ingredient for many skin care products.

Some research suggests that dietary intake of argan oil may help slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress (16).

It may also support repair and maintenance of healthy skin when applied directly to your skin, thus reducing visual signs of aging (7).

Some human studies show argan oil — both ingested and administered directly — to be effective for increasing skin elasticity and hydration in postmenopausal women (17, 18).

Ultimately, more human research is needed.

7. May Treat Some Skin Conditions

Argan oil has been a popular home remedy for treating inflammatory skin conditions for decades — especially in North Africa, where argan trees originate.

Although there’s limited scientific evidence supporting argan oil’s ability to treat specific skin infections, it is still frequently used for this purpose.

However, current research indicates that argan oil does contain several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may be why it seems to treat skin tissue (7).

Keep in mind that more research is needed.

8. May Promote Wound Healing

Argan oil may accelerate the wound healing process.

One animal study revealed a significant increase in wound healing in rats given argan oil on their second-degree burns twice daily for 14 days (19).

Although this data doesn’t prove anything with certainty, it does indicate a possible role for argan oil in wound healing and tissue repair.

That said, human research is needed.

9. May Moisturize Skin and Hair

The oleic and linoleic acids that make up the majority of argan oil’s fat content are vital nutrients for maintaining healthy skin and hair (1, 20).

Argan oil is often directly administered to skin and hair but may also be effective when ingested.

In one study, both oral and topical applications of argan oil improved the moisture content of the skin in postmenopausal women (18).

Although there isn’t any research on the specific use of argan oil for hair health, some studies indicate that other plant oils with a comparable nutritional profile may reduce split ends and other types of hair damage (21).

10. Often Used to Treat and Prevent Stretch Marks

Argan oil is frequently used to prevent and reduce stretch marks, although no research has been conducted to prove its efficacy.

In fact, there is no strong evidence that any kind of topical treatment is an effective tool for stretch mark reduction (22).

However, research does indicate that argan oil may help reduce inflammation and improve the elasticity of skin — which could be why so many people report success in using it for stretch marks (7, 17).

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