Argan Oil, a Natural Treasure from Morocco
Last updated Jul 14, 2016 admin 0 Comments
Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the argan tree (Argana). The argan tree is a thorny evergreen native to southwestern Morocco. Perfectly adapted to the southwestern arid regions of Morocco, argan is hardy and resistant, surviving in poor soil under drought conditions, requiring no cultivation.
Argan oil: The Production Process
Amazigh women harvest and make the oil mostly by traditional methods, a labor intensive process even with an electric press and filtering machine.
Before modern times, the Amazighs (also known as the Berbers) of Morocco would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats which climb the trees to eat their fruit. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. However, the oil used in cosmetic and culinary products available for sale today has most likely been harvested directly from the tree and processed with machines.
Argan oil: Culinary uses
Culinary argan oil (argan food oil) is used for dipping bread, on couscous, salads and similar uses. Amlou, a thick brown paste with a consistency similar to peanut butter, is produced by grinding roasted almond and argan oil using stones, mixed with honey and is used locally as a bread dip.
Various claims about the beneficial effects on health due to the consumption of argan oil have been made. Researchers have concluded that daily consumption of argan oil is ‘highly likely’ to be one factor helping the prevention of various cancers, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.
The results of a nutritional intervention study, in which volunteers were given either argan oil or animal fats (butter) in their diet, were published in 2005. The results showed that regular dietary intake of argan oil led to reduced levels of harmful cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, compared to a diet with regular intake of animal fats.
Argan oil: Cosmetic uses
For centuries, Berber women of the Atlas region have produced argan oil, used for its cosmetic and nutritional properties and in traditional Moroccan medicine. The oil has high nutritional value, similar to that of olive oil. It has various medicinal properties such as lowering cholesterol levels, stimulating circulation, treating arthritis, and strengthening the body’s immune system.
In cosmetics, argan oil is advocated as moisturizing oil, against juvenile acne and flaking of the skin as well as for nourishing the hair. Argan oil has also medicinal uses against rheumatism and the healing of burns.
Argan oil has become increasingly popular for cosmetic use.
The increasing popularity of argan oil has prompted the Moroccan government to plan for increased production: its aim is to triple annual production from approximately 2,500 – 4,000 tonnes by 2020.