Argan oil in cooking: properties and benefits

Argan oil is well known as a beauty product for skin and hair; however, it is also an excellent food, let’s see its properties and benefits when used in the kitchen.

Argan oil is obtained from the fruits of the argan tree, also called the tree of life. It is found mainly in Morocco; attempts to cultivate it in other areas have had little success.

To have a liter of oil it takes a woman three days of work. The limited availability and the effort required to obtain it make it a very precious product.

Argan oil, is known above all for its qualities as a cosmetic, for example, to moisturize the skin or prevent the appearance of stretch marks. In reality, however, it is also used in cooking and is a food rich in nutrients.

Argan oil intended for food is a different product from that for cosmetics; it is obtained, in fact, from toasted kernels, unlike oil for cosmetic use which is, on the other hand, cold pressed.

Argan oil in the kitchen

Food grade argan oil is an ingredient classically used in Moroccan cuisine. It is used in various traditional recipes, for example, for the preparation of cous cous and taijine; as a dressing for salads and grilled vegetables; but also in some desserts, in particular in the amlou beldi, a typical Moroccan cream, based on almonds, honey and, precisely, argan oil, traditionally offered to guests as a welcome sign.

In summary, it is used more or less as we use extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional properties of argan oil

Also from a nutritional point of view, argan oil has characteristics similar to those of extra virgin olive oil. It is rich in antioxidants, especially tocophenol, and is a good fat; a fat, that is, which does not harm the health of the heart and vessels; in fact, it contains a high quantity of unsaturated fats. To get the maximum benefit from it, it should be eaten raw; in fact, with cooking, many of the nutrients are lost.

✓ Argan oil and cardiovascular risk

Argan oil appears to reduce cardiovascular risk. In a study, noted that a group of rats fed a diet containing argan oil had lower blood pressure than those who did not receive this food. Subsequent studies have confirmed that argan oil, used as a condiment, can help prevent cardiovascular diseases and reduce symptoms, especially in cases of high cholesterol and diabetes.

✓ Argan oil and diabetes

Argan oil is commonly used in the context of diabetes therapy in Morocco. According to some studies, it would, in fact, be able to reduce insulin resistance: the mechanism underlying the development of diabetes.

According to a study, the habitual consumption of argan oil would be able to act on the changes that occur at the metabolic level when a diet is too high in sugar.

✓ Argan oil and tumors

According to a study, the components of argan oil are said to be able to reduce the growth of different types of cancer cells in prostate cancer. Furthermore, extra virgin argan oil, being a powerful antioxidant, would help protect the body from cell damage and, therefore, from the development of other forms of cancer.


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