Argan oil has been gaining popularity in recent years for its numerous health and beauty benefits. But with its origins in the kernels of a fruit, many people are left wondering: is argan oil a nut?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of argan oil, its production process, and whether or not it poses a risk for those with nut allergies.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of argan oil.
Is Argan Oil A Nut?
Argan oil is derived from the kernels found within the argan fruit, which grows on the argan tree in Morocco. While the fruit itself is often referred to as the “argan nut,” it is not technically a nut in the traditional sense.
The argan fruit is a drupe, which means it has a fleshy outer layer surrounding a hard inner pit. Inside this pit are one to three oil-rich kernels, which are used to produce argan oil.
While the argan fruit is classified as a tree nut, it is important to note that argan oil itself is not made from a nut at all. The oil is extracted from the kernel inside the pit of the fruit, and therefore does not pose a risk for those with nut allergies.
The Origins Of Argan Oil: From Fruit To Oil
The process of extracting argan oil from the argan fruit is a labor-intensive one. The fruit of the argan tree is green in early spring, but turns gold and falls from the tree when it is ripe. The fruit is then picked and opened to reveal the hard inner pit. The outer layer of the fruit is often given to local goats, while the pits are removed and dried in the sun.
Once the pits are dried, they are cracked open between two stones to reveal the oil-rich kernels inside. These kernels are then removed and crushed in a mortar with a pestle, before being ground into a thick paste by hand with a stone quern. The paste is then squeezed by hand to produce the oil.
It is important to note that not all argan oil is created equal. Depending on the method used to prepare the argan kernels, two types of argan oil can be obtained: food or cosmetic grade. Cosmetic argan oil is prepared from unroasted kernels, while food argan oil is achieved by cold-pressing kernels that have been roasted for a few minutes.
While traditional methods of producing argan oil were laborious and time-consuming, modern extraction technology has evolved to allow for large-scale production of high-quality argan oil. However, it is important to consider the impact of overuse and deforestation on the argan tree, as well as unethical practices such as forcing goats into trees for tourist attractions.
The Production Process: How Argan Oil Is Made
The production process for argan oil is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. It begins with the harvesting of the argan fruit, which ripens in June or July and is collected by communities in Morocco. The fruit is then dried in the open air, and workers remove the fleshy pulp to reveal the hard inner pit containing the oil-rich kernels.
Some producers remove the flesh mechanically without drying the fruit, while others allow goats to climb the argan trees to feed on the fruits, later retrieving the kernels from the goat droppings. Once the kernels are extracted, they are gently roasted before being ground and pressed to release the pure, unfiltered argan oil.
It takes approximately 40 kilograms of dried argan fruit to produce just one liter of oil, and extraction yields can range from 30% to 50% depending on the method used. The remaining press cake is protein-rich and often used as cattle feed.
While modern practices involve removing the peels by hand, traditional methods involve a more manual approach. Workers grind and press the kernels to extract the oil, which is then decanted into vessels. The resulting oil is pure and unfiltered, with a brown color and nutty aroma.
Nut Allergies And Argan Oil: Is It Safe To Use?
For those with nut allergies, it is important to understand the potential risks associated with using argan oil. While argan oil is not technically a nut oil, it is derived from a fruit that is classified as a tree nut. This means that individuals with tree nut allergies may be at risk of having an allergic reaction to argan oil.
According to Allergic Living magazine, some individuals have reported skin breakouts and other allergic reactions after using argan oil on their hair or skin. This is likely due to the presence of protein allergens in the oil, which can cause an allergic reaction in those with nut allergies.
It is important to note that argan oil is cold-pressed, which means that it has not undergone a heating or refining process that may break down some of the protein allergens. This makes it more likely to cause an allergic reaction in individuals with nut allergies.
While there is only one documented case of someone reacting to coconut oil, and no documented cases of reactions to shea nut oil or butter, those with tree nut allergies should still exercise caution when using argan oil. It is always best to consult with an allergist before trying any new products, especially if you have a known allergy.
Health And Beauty Benefits Of Argan Oil
Argan oil is not only a culinary staple in Morocco, but also a cosmetic powerhouse that offers numerous health and beauty benefits. This oil is packed with essential nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants, which make it a valuable addition to any skincare or haircare routine.
One of the key benefits of argan oil is its ability to hydrate and soften both skin and hair. The fatty acids in the oil provide a softening and emollient layer, while also forming a protective barrier on the skin. Additionally, argan oil contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent free radicals from penetrating the skin and causing damage.
Argan oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and scarring. Vitamin E, found abundantly in argan oil, is an anti-inflammatory agent that helps to lighten, brighten, and heal skin while fighting the effects of aging and sun damage. Its anti-aging effects are also well-documented – whether ingested or applied directly to the skin, argan oil helps to improve hydration and skin elasticity, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and dryness.
When it comes to hair health, argan oil is a go-to solution for many people. The high content of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E in argan oil naturally helps to increase hair’s elasticity and consistently restore shine to dull, lifeless hair. It can also help prevent breakage by neutralizing hair damage from free radicals and other elements. Additionally, argan oil helps protect hair from mechanical stress caused by styling tools like curling irons and hair dryers.
Finally, the fats and antioxidants in argan oil can help your body stay healthier overall. The high concentration of vitamin E in this oil makes it effective at boosting the immune system while supporting skin health and elasticity. Applying argan oil to your skin can help slow down sagging or wrinkling, preventing common signs of aging. The same properties that make argan oil helpful for keeping skin looking young may also help wounds heal faster due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Argan Oil Vs Other Nut Oils: How They Compare
When it comes to comparing argan oil to other nut oils, it is important to note that not all nut oils are created equal. For example, marula nut oil is said to contain higher levels of antioxidants than argan oil and is considered by some to be a purer oil. However, it is important to note that marula nut oil is not as widely available as argan oil and may be more expensive.
Coconut oil is another popular oil for hair and skin care, but it is important to note that it has a higher likelihood of clogging pores than argan oil. This can lead to acne breakouts, which is not an issue with argan oil due to its non-comedogenic properties.
In terms of nutritional value, argan oil is high in vitamin E compared to many other plant-based oils, making it a popular choice for use in cooking and as a salad dressing. However, it should be noted that argan oil is not meant for cooking foods with high heat and should only be used on room-temperature foods.
How To Incorporate Argan Oil Into Your Beauty Routine
Argan oil is a versatile and beneficial ingredient that can be easily incorporated into your daily beauty routine. Here are some ways to use 100% Nuts Pure Argan Oil for healthy, glowing skin and hair:
1. Best Eyebrows Ever: The antioxidants in argan oil promote cell production, which can aid in hair growth. Apply a few drops of oil to the eyebrow area nightly using a Q-tip for thicker, fuller brows.
2. No Makeup Primer? No Problem: Pump a dime-sized amount of argan oil into your hands and warm it up before pressing it into your skin for a natural, glowy complexion. Wait a minute or two before applying makeup for an all-day radiant look.
3. Your New Night Cream: Use 1-2 pumps of argan oil on its own by pressing it into the skin or mix 4-5 drops into your regular moisturizer for a heavier nighttime moisturizer that promotes cell turnover and regeneration.
4. DIY BB Cream: Mix a few drops of argan oil with your full coverage foundation for a subtle, glowy look that won’t feel heavy on the skin.
5. Hydrating Exfoliator: Mix argan oil with a gentle exfoliating agent like coffee or sugar for a hydrating scrub that sloughs off dead skin cells without causing tears in the skin.
When it comes to hair, argan oil can be used as a nourishing conditioner, protective spray, hydrating hair mask, shine-inducing hair oil, and effective styling product. It can also be used as a relieving scalp treatment to reduce inflammation and dandruff.