What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is best known as an additive to hair and skin products, but its uses go beyond the field of cosmetics. Argan oil has a sweet, nutty flavor that’s perfect for a wide variety of foods. It’s also known as one of the rarest culinary oils in the world.
The oil comes from the argan tree, which is native to Morocco. The fruit is peeled away and the seeds are dried, roasted, and pressed to extract the oil. The final result is a smooth, delicious oil that’s become popular around the world for its flavor and health benefits.
Argan Oil Benefits
The fats and antioxidants in argan oil can help your body stay healthier.
Its high concentration of vitamin E means it's effective in boosting the immune system. It also helps your body maintain and repair your eyes and skin.
Other health benefits of argan oil include:
The fatty acids in argan oil can help boost your levels of “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol, potentially reducing your chances of heart disease.
Some early studies show that argan oil compounds may slow cancer growth and kill more cancer cells.
Applying argan oil to your skin can help support skin health and elasticity. This results in skin that is slower to sag or wrinkle, warding off common signs of aging.
The same properties that make argan oil helpful for keeping skin looking young may also help wounds heal. The antioxidants found in argan oil can help reduce inflammation. One early study showed that burns heal faster when you apply argan oil regularly, but scientists still need to do human trials.
Some research shows argan oil could improve your skin's elasticity, whether you apply it to your skin or consume it.
Is Argan Oil Good for Your Hair?
The evidence for this is unclear. While one review found no meaningful evidence that argan oil improves hair growth or quality, other studies suggest potential benefits, including hair protection. Another study found that argan extract, which has argan oil, may enhance cell growth in hair follicles while preventing inflammation and other harmful reactions in your body.
Argan Oil Nutrition
One tablespoon of culinary argan oil contains:
- Calories: 72
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: 8 grams
- Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram
- Fiber: Less than 1 gram
- Sugar: Less than 1 gram
Argan oil is also rich in:
Studies have shown that consuming argan oil is connected to lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and improving long-term heart health.
How to Prepare Argan Oil
Argan oil can be eaten or used topically, so it’s important to make sure you’re using the right kind.
Food-grade argan oil, also known as virgin argan oil or culinary argan oil, can be found in health food stores, Moroccan grocery stores, or online. This oil is guaranteed to be safe to eat, unlike those that are supposed to be used on hair or skin.
In Morocco, argan oil is used as a dipping oil or drizzled over other foods. It’s not used as an oil to cook other foods in, because argan oil burns easily. It’s primarily eaten cold or added to warm foods at the end of the cooking process.
Here are some ways you can add argan oil to your daily diet:
- Make amlu (amlou), a Moroccan dip made with roasted, ground almonds, honey, and argan oil.
- Make salad dressing with the oil.
- Include argan oil in hummus.
- Drizzle it on top of grilled fish.
- Spread argan oil on bread.
- Mix it into rice or couscous.
Argan oil is known for its use in hair and skin products. Beyond cosmetics, it offers health benefits such as immune system support, cholesterol control, potential cancer-fighting properties, anti-aging effects, and wound healing. Research links argan oil to lower LDL cholesterol and better heart health.