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The argan tree (Argania spinosa L. Skeels), an endemic tree in Morocco, is the most remarkable species in North Africa, due to its botanical and bioecologic interest as well as its social value. Argan oil is traditionally well known for its cardioprotective properties and it is also used in the treatment of skin infections. This paper gives an overview of scientific literature available on nutritional and pharmacologic properties of argan oil. Owing to its unique organoleptic properties associated with its cardioprotective properties, argan oil has found, recently, its place in the highly competitive international edible oil market. This success is a very positive sign for the preservation of the argan tree, the argan forests and, therefore, in general, the biodiversity.
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PHYSICOCHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS, NUTRITIONAL
PROPERTIES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ARGAN OIL: A
REVIEW
Abdelilah El Abbassi a , Nauman Khalid b , Hanaa Zbakh c & Asif Ahmad d
a Food Sciences Laboratory, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences—Semlalia , Cadi
Ayyad University , Marrakech , Morocco
b Department of Global Agriculture, Graduate School of Agriculture and life Sciences ,
University of Tokyo , 1–1–1, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku , Tokyo , 113–8657
c Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy , University of Seville , Spain
d Department of Food Technology , PMAS- Arid Agriculture University , Rawalpindi , 46300 ,
Pakistan
Accepted author version posted online: 14 May 2013.
To cite this article: Abdelilah El Abbassi , Nauman Khalid , Hanaa Zbakh & Asif Ahmad (2013): PHYSICOCHEMICAL
CHARACTERISTICS, NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ARGAN OIL: A REVIEW, Critical Reviews in Food
Science and Nutrition, DOI:10.1080/10408398.2011.638424
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2011.638424
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PHYSICOCHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS, NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES AND
HEALTH BENEFITS OF ARGAN OIL: A REVIEW
Abdelilah EL ABBASSI1,, Nauman KHALID*2, Hanaa ZBAKH3 and Asif AHMAD4
1 Food Sciences Laboratory, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences – Semlalia, Cadi Ayyad
University, Marrakech, Morocco.
2Department of Global Agriculture, Graduate School of Agriculture and life Sciences, University
of Tokyo, 1-1-1, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8657
3 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Seville, Spain.
4Department of Food Technology, PMAS- Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi,46300
Pakistan
*Corresponding author:
Nauman Khalid
Department of Global Agriculture
Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences
The University of Tokyo, Japan
+81-80-3385-0786
nauman_khalid120@yahoo.com
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ABSTRACT
The argan tree (Argania spinosa L. Skeels), an endemic tree in Morocco, is the most remarkable
species in North Africa, due to its botanical and bio-ecological interest as well as its social
value. Argan oil is traditionally well known for its cardioprotective properties and it is also used
in the treatment of skin infections. This paper gives an overview of scientific literature available
on nutritional and pharmacological properties of argan oil. Owing to its unique organoleptic
properties associated with its cardioprotective properties, argan oil has found, recently, its place
in the highly competitive international edible oil market. This success is a very positive sign for
the preservation of the argan tree, the argan forests and hence, in general, the biodiversity.
Keywords: Argania spinosa; argan oil; fatty acids; nutrition; pharmacological properties
BACKGROUND
Human diet contains three macronutrients and several micronutrients like vitamins,
minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytochemicals. The macronutrients are sources of
different kinds of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats (lipids). Food industry is concerned to supply
these as primary products or as constituents of a wide range of foods. Healthy supplies of
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macronutrients generally contain the necessary micronutrients. Regardless of the impression
given by many uniformed sources that fat is an undesirable part of the diet, it remains an
essential requirement. Awareness that both quantity and the quality of the fat consumed are
important elements of healthy diet is the main challenge of this highly developed world.
The lipids have important physical, chemical, and nutritional properties and these have to
be brought into appropriate balance. This is not always an easy task. Nutritionists may indicate a
recommended quantity and quality of fat and seed producers, farmers, while those in the
agricultural and food businesses strive to produce material to meet these targets. With growing
problems of obesity and hypercholesterolemia there is need to reduce trans acids consumption in
diet or replace these with omega-3 acids.
Almost all vegetable oils are obtained from beans or seeds. Oil extraction is normally
achieved by pressing or with solvent extraction techniques. Seeds give oil in different
proportions. Using USDA figures for 2008-09, world average oil yields are: soybean (18%),
rapeseed (39%), sunflower (41%), groundnut (32%), coconut oil (62%), and 44% palm kernel
(Gunstone, 2011).
The argan tree (Argania spinosa) is an endemic plant of south-western Morocco, where it
covers an area of 3200 square miles that constitutes a unique biotope, named ‘the argan forest’.
Argania spinosa is a tree that has played an essential function in the South-western Moroccan
micro-economy (El Monfalouti et al., 2010). By providing food for human beings and animals as
well as fuel, it has played a key role for the native population of these regions for centuries. The
present review gives the detailed physico-chemical, nutritional and health benefit of argan oil.
Botanical features of argan tree
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The argan tree (Argania spinosa) is native to Morocco and the second most common tree
in the country. It grows wild and profusely in the area extending from Safi to the fringes of the
Sahara and bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Atlas Mountains to the east. Its
geographic distribution is limited; located 29°15' to 31°20' N; 8°10' to 10°25' W. Within the area
where the argan grows there are about 21 million trees which play a vital role in the food chain
and the environment, though their numbers are declining now (Batanouny, 2011).
Insert Figure 1 here
Its deep roots are the most important stabilizing element in the arid ecosystem, providing
the final barrier against the encroaching deserts (Lybbert, 2007). The argan tree belongs to a
tropical family, Sapotaceae, which includes about 10 genera and 600 species (M'Hirit et al.,
1998). The tree resists domestication and remains extremely difficult to transplant or establish on
any meaningful scale outside Morocco. Argan trees grow to 8-10 m of height, and live to 150–
200 years old. They are thorny, with gnarled trunks. The leaves are small, 2–4 cm long, oval with
a rounded apex. The flowers are small, with five pale yellow-green petals; flowering is in April.
The fruit is 2–4 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a thick, bitter peel surrounding a sweet-
smelling but unpleasantly flavored layer of pulpy pericarp. This surrounds the very hard nut,
which contains one (occasionally two or three) small, oil-rich seeds. The fruit takes over a year
to mature, ripening in June to July of the following year. Its average weight ranges from 5 to 20
g or more. The flesh or pulp is 55 to 75% of the fruit fresh weight (M'Hirit et al., 1998).
Nearly 90% of the rural economy in the region depends on argan-based agroforestry
(Benchekroun, 1990). This heavy local dependence on the argan tree has shaped clear and well-
established, albeit complex, tenure arrangements that grant usufruct (legal) rights to the fruit of
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sections of the forest to specific villages and households (Lybbert, 2007). In recognition of its
ecological value and local economic importance, the argan forest region was declared a
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1998 (Lybbert, 2007).
ARGAN OIL
The Argan oil consumption has recently increased in the European, North American and
Japanese oil market (Charrouf and Guillaume, 2010). Edible Argan oil is cold press oil (Charrouf
et al., 2002). The term ‘cold-pressed oil’ can be used when a careful, gentle mechanical
extraction of the raw material without application of heat is used. However, heat-treatment is
allowed during preparation of the raw material and/or of the oil after the pressing process. Argan
oil is produced from the fruits of the argan tree and it is a “living product” whose composition
inevitably undergoes slight variations (Hilali et al., 2005). According to utilization pattern
(cosmetics, pharmaceutical, cooking etc) oil argan are extracted by different methods (Charrouf
and Guillaume, 2010; El Monfalouti et al., 2010) like hand extraction, cold press technique and
solvent extraction, all of these extraction results in different composition of oil. The comparison
of preparation and quality of different argan oils are presented in Table 1.
Insert table 1 here
ARGAN OIL EXTRACTIONMETHODS
Traditional method
Traditionally, argan oil is extracted by women. The ripe-fruit pulp and peel are carefully
discarded, then argan nuts are broken with stones and the kernels are air dried in clay containers
and roasted by mild heating. Roasted kernels are cooled then ground affording brownish dough.
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This latter is finally hand-mixed with mild water for several minutes. To extract the oil, the
dough is hand-pressed until it got solid and the obtained brownish emulsion is decanted,
furnishing, after several minutes, limpid oil with hazelnut taste. The extraction residue or "press-
cake" is dark-brown to black and generally still contains up to 10% of oil. It is very palatable to
cattle (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999). This hand-made extraction technique is very slow and
around ten hours are necessary to get one liter of oil. This technique barely affords more than
30% of oil that badly preserves due to the water added during the extraction process.
Traditionally, the oil is extracted when necessary and salt is added for its preservation (Charrouf
and Guillaume, 1999).
Press extraction
Recently, a mechanical press has been introduced to extract argan oil. Using this
technique, mixing of the dough and water is unnecessary and the dough can be directly pressed.
All other steps remaining unchanged, the oil is obtained in about 43% yield (calculated from the
kernels) and only two hours are needed to get one liter of oil that preserves correctly.
Solvent extraction
For industrial or laboratory purposes, argan oil can be extracted from ground kernels
using any volatile lipophilic solvent. After evaporation of this latter, and one or two cycles of
extraction, the oil is obtained in 50 to 55% yield. However, this type of extraction furnishes oil
with unsatisfactory organoleptic properties compared to the traditional or press extraction
(Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999). This technique is exclusively reserved to prepare argan oil for
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cosmetic purposes. Preservatives are frequently added to compensate for the naturally protective
agents lost during extraction and/or distillation (tocopherols, polyphenols etc.).
TYPES OF ARGAN OIL
Argan oil has been given different names based upon its usage like virgin argan oil,
cosmetic argan oil, cold press argan oil and so on (Charrouf and Guillaume, 2010). The
compositions of oil obtained by different methods are presented in Table 2.
Virgin and extra-virgin argan oil
Extra-virgin argan oil refers to argan oil whose acidity value is lower than 0.8 (Norme
Marocaine, 2003). Virgin argan oil has an acidity value lower than 1.5 (Norme Marocaine,
2003).
Edible argan oil
Edible argan oil is prepared from roasted kernels, whereas unroasted kernels are used in
the production of cosmetic argan oil (El Monfalouti et al., 2010). The edible argan oil has
hazelnut type taste. It has very high quality with low moisture and high antioxidant content.
Edible argan oil is also the major constituent of ‘Amlou’, a highly nutritive preparation whose
composition also includes large quantities of crushed almonds and honey (El Monfalouti et al.,
2010).
Cosmetic argan oil
Cosmetic argan oil is prepared by solvent-extraction. Cosmetic argan oil is directly used
for skin application or as a hair lotion. Its content of volatile components is lower than that of
edible argan oil (Pauly et al., 2001) and its shelf life is also shorter, probably due to the
formation of Millard compounds during roasting step (El Monfalouti et al., 2010; Harhar et al.,
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2010). Cosmetic argan oil contains about 1% of unsaponifiable matters that also have antioxidant
properties and participate in oil preservation (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011).
Beauty argan oil
The preparatory time of beauty argan oil is normally less than that of edible oil, because
roasting is not carried out during preparation. Four steps are necessary for its manufacturing like
fruit picking, fruit peeling, nut breaking and kernel pressing. Non-roasted argan kernels deliver
beauty oil in 40–45% yield (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011).
Enriched argan oil
Enriched argan oil can be prepared by removing free fatty acids by steam distillation at
150 to 200oC under pressure of 1.5 to 8.5 Pa (Fabre et al., 1991). However, enrichment in fatty
acids is detrimental for cosmetic argan oil. High levels of fatty acids lead to an odorant oil that
can be irritant to the skin (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011).
Insert table 2 here
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF ARGAN OIL
Triglycerides and Fatty acid profile
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which play an
important role on human health promotion, and since they cannot be synthesized by the human
body they must be obtained through diet. They are “good fats” that compete with “bad fats”,
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such as trans fats and cholesterol, and they increase the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL),
or "good cholesterol", and decrease the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad
cholesterol”.
Triacylglycerols (TAGs) are the major constituent of argan oil. Over 99% of argan oil
consists of mixtures of TAGs, i.e. glycerol molecules, each esterified with three fatty acids.
During oil extraction from the kernal, the hydrophobic TAGs attract other fat- or oil-soluble
cellular components. These are the minor components of argan oil such as, triterpenes, sterols,
pigments, tocopherols and trace metals. Other components in argan oil are the metabolites from
the biosynthesis of TAGs and products of lipolytic activity. These include the
monoacylglycerols, diacylglycerols and free fatty acids. 13C NMR methodologies, which are
used to characterize oils (Mannina et al., 1992) have been conducted to locate the triglyceridic
regiospecificity of the profile of argan oil and the results of this study, indicated that the method
is more convenient and less time consuming. It shows that saturated fatty acids (palmitic or
stearic) generally substitute the glycerol extremities (Sn-1 and Sn-3) while oleic acid generally
esterifies the glycerol secondary alcohol (Sn-3).
Insert table 3 here
The compositions of fatty acid profile of argan oil determined by different scientists are
presented in (Table 3). The major fatty acids in argan oil are oleic, linoleic, stearic, and palmitic
acids (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999; Khallouki, 2003; Khallouki et al., 2005). The oil has a
high content (45%) of oleic acid (C-18:1) with respect to other seed oils, and it is also rich (35%)
in polyunsaturated linoleic acid (C-18:2 (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999; Khallouki, 2003;
Khallouki et al., 2003). Argan oil has a fatty acid composition similar to that of sesame and
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peanut oil, marketed in Western Europe. The comparative fatty acid composition of argan oil
with Moringa olerifera oil and olive oil are presented in (Table 4). The comparison indicates
high quality composition of argan oil. Chemical analysis of this oil highlighted a glyceride
fraction (99%) that is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids like oleic (47.7%) and 29.3% linoleic
acid (Chimi et al., 1994).
Insert Table 4 here
Minor constituents of argan oil
The minor constituents of argan oil can be divided into two broad groups. The first group
consists of fatty acid derivatives, like glycerides (mono and diacylglycerols), phytosterols,
triterpenes and alcohols. The second group includes classes of compounds not related chemically
associated to fatty acids. These include the hydrocarbons, aliphatic alcohols, tocopherols,
pigments, phenolics and trace metals. Most of the minor components found in the unsaponifiable
fraction of argan oil are phytosterols, triterpene alcohols, tocopherols and xanthophylls (Charrouf
and Guillaume, 1999; Khallouki, 2003; Khallouki et al., 2003). The comparison of fatty acids
and other minor compounds in Israeli and Moroccan argan oil is presented in Table 5.
Insert Table 5 here
Triterpene alcohols
The unsaponifiable matter in argan oil contains a proportion of about 20% of triterpene
alcohols (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999). These are a complex group of plant constituents which
consist mainly of five condensed cyclohexane rings with 30 carbon atoms. They can be separated
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from the sterols by chromatography and the few identified in crude argan oil include lupane,
ursane and oleanane derivatives which include β-amyrin, butyrospermol and tirucalol as major
triterpenic alcohols (Fig. 2) and represent 27.3, 18.1 and 27.9 % of the triterpenic fraction,
respectively (Khallouki et al., 2005).
Insert Figure 2 here
Methyl sterols and Sterols
Sterols and stanols are present in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, legumes and
vegetable oils, among others, being stanols present in much smaller amounts than sterols. Both
are essential components of plant cell membranes and structurally resemble cholesterol, which is
also a sterol. However, cholesterol is predominately of animal origin, being synthesized in the
human liver, and has an essential role in the human body, either for the cell walls or as a building
block for steroid hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. Cholesterol is carried from the
liver to the cells by the low density lipoproteins (LDL), through the blood, and these may
originate fat deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), and
leading ultimately to heart attack or stroke (Law et al., 1994). On the contrary, the high density
lipoproteins (HDL) exert a protective effect to the heart, since they carry the excess of bad
cholesterol back to the liver, where it is eliminated.
Four sterols have been isolated from argan oil (Farines et al., 1984), spinasterol,
schottenol, (3β,22E, 24S)-stigmasta-5,22-dien-3- ol, and (3β,24Z)-stigmasta-7,24-28-dien-3-ol
(Fig. 3). 24-methylene cycloartanol in plants represents the biosynthetic origin of 4-methyl
sterols. These sterols are present in small quantities in the triterpenic fractions of the oil.
Charrouf and Guillaume, (1999) and Khallouki, (2003) reported the presence of cycloeucatenol
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and citrostadienol in argan oil. These methyl sterols do not appear to play any specific biological
role and are probably biosynthetic intermediates in the evolution of triterpenic alcohols and
sterols.
Sterols are tetracyclic compounds with generally 27, 28 or 29 carbon atoms. They
constitute a sizeable proportion of the unsaponifiable matter in oil. Four types of sterols have
been found in argan oil. The two major are named spinasterol and schottenol (44 and 48%
respectively), the two minor (stigmasta-8, 22-dien-3β-ol (22-E, 24-S) and tigmasta-7,24-28-dien-
3β-ol (24-Z) have been both isolated in 4% yield. No D-5 type’s sterols have been identified in
argan oil that is however repeatedly encountered in vegetable oils (Charrouf and Guillaume,
2008).
The total content of sterols in the unsaponifiable fraction of argan oil is about 20%.
Farines et al., (1981), Charrouf and Guillaume, (1999), Khallouki, (2003), Khallouki et al.,
(2003) report that argan oil contains spinasterol (40%) and its dihydrospinasterol (schottenol,
48%) as major sterols respectively along with -7-avenasterol and stigmasta-8,22-diene-3-β-ol in
lower concentrations. Spinasterol and schottenol are rarely found in vegetable oils. Spinasterol
has been described as the characteristic phytosterol of the sapotaceae family (Gunasekera et al.,
1977). Contrary to the composition of fatty acids, the phytosterol composition is very different
from that of sesame and peanut oils in which β-sitoterol dominates.
Insert Figure 3 here
Antioxidants
Antioxidants such as vanillic, ferulic and syringic acids along with tyrosol in argan oil
has also been achieved (Khallouki, 2003; Khallouki et al., 2003). p-Hydroxybenzoic acid and
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vanillin are also identified in trace amounts and a number of unidentified compounds with UV
spectra similar to phenolics were also detected, and warrant further investigations.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which comprises two major homologous series of
compounds (tocochromanols), known as tocopherols and tocotrienols. The tocopherols are
structurally characterized by a saturated side chain on the chromatin ring, whereas the
tocotrienols possess an unsaturated phytyl side chain (Fig. 4). Four homologs of each type are
known to exist in nature and they have different degrees of antioxidant and vitamin E activities.
Vegetable oils, especially the seed oils, are rich sources of tocopherols. The vitamin E content in
crude argan oil ranges between 629 to 660 mg/kg and the major tocopherol (500 mg/kg) is the
gamma-analogue (75%) (Khallouki, 2003; Khallouki et al., 2003). Similarly studies with the
unsaponifiable fraction revealed that argan oil is rich in tocopherol (620 mg/kg versus 320 mg/kg
in olive oil and 400 mg/kg in sunflower oil), particularly α and β-tocopherol (Aguilera et al.,
2004; Khallouki, 2003). Argan oil is almost twice as rich in tocopherol as olive oil (620 vs. 320
mg/kg). α-Tocopherol as well as β- and γ -tocopherol has been identified in argan oil (Charrouf,
1984). The presence of these tocopherols (Vitamin E) together with polyphenols (caffeic acid
and oleuropein) (Chimi et al., 1988) probably plays a part in the good preservation qualities of
argan oil. Recently Marfil et al., (2011) determined the tocopherol and antioxidant content of
argan oil. They concluded that total tocopherols varied between 427.0 and 654.0 mg/kg. The
antioxidant activity of argan virgin oils determined by the ABTS method in n-hexane oils
dilution ranged between 14.16 and 28.02 mmol Trolox/kg, and by the ABTS, DPPH, and FRAPS
methods in methanolic oil extracts between 2.31–14.15, 0.19–0.87, and 0.62–2.32 mmol
Trolox/kg, respectively. A high correlation was found between ABTS and DPPH methods
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applied to a methanolic oil extract. Virgin argan oil presents a higher tocopherol content, and
total antioxidant activity in comparison with any other edible vegetable oils.
Insert figure 4 here
In general, vegetable oils contain a large variety of bioactive compounds with interesting
properties, which include free radical scavengers, reducing agents, potential chelators of metal
ions, and quenchers of the singlet oxygen formation (Gorinstein et al., 2003). Literature data
show that the total tocopherols content in virgin argan oil is higher than the content reported for
extra virgin olive oil but lower than for other edible vegetable oils (Marfil et al., 2011). For
example, Pellegrini et al., (2003) reported data on the α-tocopherol content in extra virgin olive
oil is 251-369 mg/kg; α-tocopherol represents the major fraction of total tocopherols in olive oil.
Tuberoso et al., (2007) found values of 1618.4 and 1797.6 mg/kg of total tocopherols in corn and
soybean oils, respectively. Szydlowska-Czerniak et al., (2008) reported data on total tocopherols
ranged between 555-690 and 80-190 mg/kg in rapeseed and olive oils, respectively. Cayuela et
al., (2008) analyzed different argan oils produced by the traditional and the semiautomatic
extraction methods, and reported a total tocopherols content ranging from 389 to 503 mg/kg; γ-
tocopherol was the major tocopherol (84.4-86.4%). These authors reported that the low
tocopherols content they found could be due to inadequate oil storage conditions. These authors
also indicated that traditionally extracted argan oils show significantly higher total tocopherols
content than the oils from semi-industrial extraction method. The total tocopherols content is a
purity criterion, as established by Ministry of Industry, Trade, Energy and Mines (MITEM) the
Moroccan standard 08.5.090 (MITEM, 2002) with the reference limits of this parameters being
between 600 and 900 mg/kg.
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Carotenoid Pigments
Of the various classes of pigments in nature, the carotenoids are among the most
widespread and important ones, especially due to their varied functions. These are fat-soluble
pigments found mostly in plants, fruits, flowers, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, but they also
occur in some non-photosynthetic bacteria, yeasts, and molds. The most abundant carotenoids in
naturally consumed foods are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein,
beta-crpytoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin (Fig. 5).
Carotenoids are highly unsaturated tetraterpenes, biosynthesized from eight isoprene
units. Their more favored state is the all-trans. Carotenoids are divided into two main classes:
carotenes which are strictly polyene hydrocarbons, and xanthophylls, which contain oxygen. The
oxygen in xanthophylls may be in the form of hydroxy (e.g. zeaxanthin and lutein), keto, epoxy
or carboxyl groups. Xanthophylls occur in crude argan oil at a level of 42% of the unsaponifiable
fraction (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999).
Carotenoids are important for human health, but its structure ultimately determines the
potential biological functions. The essential role of beta-carotene and others as the main dietary
source of vitamin A has been known for many years (Carlier et al., 1993). More recently,
protective effects of carotenoids against serious disorders such as cancer (Donaldson, 2004;
Kantoff, 2006) heart disease (Lonn and Yusuf, 1999; Sesso et al., 2003) and degenerative eye
disease (Mozaffarieh et al., 2003) have been recognized, and have stimulated intensive research
into the role of carotenoids as antioxidants and as regulators of the immune response system.
Insert figure 5 here
Squalene
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Similar to olive oil Owen et al., (2000) and other vegetable oils, argan oil contains, high
contents of squalene (up to 3.2 g/kg) (Khallouki, 2003; Khallouki et al., 2003). Hydrocarbons
mainly squalene in vegetable oils are present in quantities generally lower than 0.15%, the
exceptions are olive and argan oils, which exceed 0.3% (Khallouki et al., 2005).
Phenolic compounds
Argan oil is rich in phenolic content. 9 phenols (i.e., 3-hydroxypyridine (3-pyridinol), 6-
methyl- 3-hydroxypyridine, catechol, resorcinol, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, vanillyl alcohol, 4-
hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethyl alcohol, epicatechin, and catechin) are determined by GC-MS
analysis in alimentary and cosmetic argan oil. The analysis of the press cake revealed 16
phenols, among which 6 new ones not present in oils were identified (vanillin, 4-
hydroxyphenylacetic acid, 3,4-dihydroxybenzyl alcohol, methyl 3,4-dihydroxybenzoate,
hydroxytyrosol, and protocatechuic acid). Marfil et al., (2011) pointed that total polyphenolic
contents in argan oil ranged between 6.07 and 152.04mg GAE/kg. Virgin argan oil contains
higher polyphenols in comparison with any other edible oil.
NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES AND HEALTH BENEFITS OF ARGAN OIL
Argan oil has been used as a food, food ingredient, and cosmetics ingredient for
centuries. It has been applied to the skin hence proving no toxicity either in acute or chronic
form. Argan oil has a long, significant, and tasty lineage in Morocco. It used for cooking Tagine,
couscouss, and other meals. It may be served alone as a dip for bread at breakfast time or in
combination with honey, or with butter or also with blended almonds to make a mixture called
Amlou. Its flavor is similar to that of peanut butter. Combined with oat it is considered as a good
meal for babies and children. The main traditional use of argan oil is by far for nutritional
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purposes. Natives either directly eat the oil on toasts, generally for breakfast, or use it for frying.
Argan oil consumers have lower levels of plasma LDL and cholesterol compared with the non-
consumers Drissi et al., (2004). There are many patents that confirm the utilization of argan oil in
many cosmetics products (Table 6).
Insert table 6 here
In southern Morocco, argan forests are precious to the indigenous Berber tribes who rely
on the peculiar tree for firewood and charcoal for heating and cooking; wood for carpentry and
construction; fodder for livestock; and oil for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. The
argan oil is traditionally indicated to cure all kind of pimples on the skin and more particularly
juvenile acne and chicken pox pustules (Charrouf et al., 2002). It is also recommended to reduce
dry skin problems and slow down the appearance of wrinkles (Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999). It
is also used in rheumatology. For these indications, the oil is used as a skin lotion and applied on
the area to be cured. In addition, and as olive oil, argan oil is also used by mouth and is
traditionally prescribed as hepatoprotective agent, or in case of hypercholesterolemia or
atherosclerosis (Bellakhdar, 1997; Moukal and L’arganier, 2004). Argan oil would also prevent
miscarriage. Cosmetic-grade oil cures skin pimples, juvenile acne, and chicken pox pustules. It
also reduces the rate of appearance of wrinkles and is used to fight dry skin and dry hair. The
complete list of all pharmacological properties of argan is presented in Table 7.
Insert table 7 here
Antioxidant properties
Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin E. The fat component of argan oil is
divided into the following fatty acid types: saturated (16-20%), monounsaturated (45-50%), and
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polyunsaturated (32-40%). There is also a significant concentration of oleic acid and omega-6
fatty acids. Compared to olive oil, argan oil is about equal in saturated fatty acid content, lower
in monounsaturated fatty acid content, and high in polyunsaturated fatty acid content. Mono- and
polyunsaturated fatty acids, when consumed instead of saturated fatty acids, are capable of
reducing plasma cholesterol (Richard et al., 2011).
Argan oil contains, in small amounts, other fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, that produce
prostaglandins, which are key in immune system and circulation functions (Perdomo et al.,
2011). Consumption of linoleic acid will lead to an increased production of prostaglandins,
which helps with rheumatoid arthritis and problems of the cardio vascular system (Semerano et
al., 2011). The triglycerides content of argan oil may have too cholesterol-lowering effects
(Derouiche et al., 2005). Because argan oil is processed using a cold press, it retains a much
larger amount of its natural nutritive qualities than oils pressed using a heated process.
Argan oil induces an increase in antioxidant activity of the cell because ingestion of argan
oil by rats induces a change in the polyunsaturated fatty acids of the membranes (Belcadi, 1994)
and presence of vitamin E could decrease the membrane susceptibility to peroxidation that could
be at the origin of elderly processes (Ames and Shiegenaga, 1992).
Recent epidemiological, experimental and mechanistic evidence suggests that γ-
tocopherol may be a more potent cancer chemopreventive agent than α-tocopherol (Gao et al.,
2002; Huang et al., 2003). It was found that γ-tocopherol is more potent than α-tocopherol in its
interaction with reactive nitrogen oxide (NO) species (Cooney et al., 1993). Helzlsouer et al.,
(2000) have examined the effects of α-tocopherol, γ
-tocopherol and selenium on incident
prostate cancer, and statistically significant protective associations for high levels of selenium
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and α-tocopherol were found only when
γ
-tocopherol levels were high. Moreover, the role of γ -
tocopherol as a colorectal cancer preventive agent is well reviewed by Campbell et al., (2003). γ-
Tocopherol inhibits proliferation of colon cancer cell lines more potently than α-tocopherol and
prevents cell cycle progression through reduction in the levels of cyclin D1 and cyclin E and
inhibits DNA synthesis more efficiently than α-tocopherol (Gysin et al., 2002). Argan oil
contains higher content of γ-Tocopherol in comparison with any other edible oil. Argan oil is
highly effective in controlling prostate cancer (Bennani et al., 2007; Drissi et al., 2006; Khallouki
et al., 2003).
Dermocosmetological properties
It is believed that argan oil skin-protective properties such as moisturizing, anti-aging and
repair, results from its high level in polyphenols, a class of compounds known to prevent UV-B-
induced wrinkle formation and photo-aging caused by collagen destruction and inflammatory
responses (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011). Argan oil also possesses sebum control properties
(Dobrev, 2007). This has led to the preparation of argan oil-containing compositions aimed at
correcting or preventing disorders associated with greasiness by reducing the sebum secretion.
Cosmetic-grade argan oil can be introduced crude or after trans-esterification with polyglycerin-
6 in shampoos or hair conditioners, since it nourishes and revitalizes the scalp, it also restores
hair natural softness and silky (Charrouf and Guillaume, 2008).
The anti-sebum activity of argan oil was demonstrated on 17 to 50 years old 20
volunteers having oily facial skin. A twice daily facial application of an argan oil containing
cream for four weeks revealed significant anti-sebum activity that reduced greasiness and
improved appearance of oily facial skin (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011; Dobrev, 2007).
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Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
The rich composition of argan oil in term of tocopherols, Mono unsaturated fatty acid
(MUFA) and Poly unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) makes it very interesting oil regarding its
potential actions on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as hyperlipidemia,
hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.
The fatty acid composition of argan oil has been the focus of attention in determining its
nutritional adequacy in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD), atherosclerosis, inflammation,
and cancer risk factors. As indicated earlier, fatty acids in argan oil are balanced by almost 80%
unsaturated oleic and linoleic acids and 20% saturated fatty acids. Dietary fatty acids are known
to modulate plasma lipids and lipoproteins. This concept has been extensively researched since
the early 1950s and evidence has steadily accumulated showing a positive correlation between
saturated fat intake and increased levels of plasma total cholesterol (TC) in humans. Oils rich in
oleic acid are currently touted to be the healthiest of the edible fats in the human diet (Bartsch et
al., 1999). While olive, rapeseed and Canola contain in excess of 60% of their composition as
cis-oleic acid, argan oil has about 45% of this monounsaturated fatty acid. The question of
whether this level of oleic acid in argan is adequate to result in a lipoprotein-cholesterol profile
that protects against CHD and cancers must be examined in a series of human trials.
The anti-inflammatory properties of n-3 PUFA in the arterial wall may contribute to the
protective effects of n-3 PUFA in CVD, as suggested by epidemiological and secondary
prevention studies. Some studies showed that dietary n-3 PUFA can be incorporated into plaque
lipid in human subjects, where they may influence the morphology and stability of the
atherosclerotic lesion (Yaqqob, 2004).
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Berrougui et al., (2003) investigated the effect of dietary argan oil on serum lipids
composition. Hyperlipidemia was induced by high calorie and cholesterol (HCC) diet
administration in 16 rats (Meriones shawi). Eight rats were treated with argan oil (10 ml/1 Kg
weight) daily by oral route during 7 weeks (treated group). Control animals were also fed with
HCC diet for 7 weeks. After 7-week treatment with argan oil, blood lipoproteins were
significantly reduced. Total cholesterol decreased with 36.67%, low density lipoprotein (LDL)-
cholesterol in 67.70%, triglycerides in 30.67% and body weight in 12.7%. Furthermore, high
density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol concentration remained unaltered (Berrougui et al., 2003).
These finding indicates the beneficial effect of argan oil in the treatment of the hyperlipidemia
and hypercholesterolemia.
Hypertension is one of risk factors of CVD (Simon et al., 1996). Berrougui et al., (2004)
investigated the effects of 7 weeks of treatment with argan oil (10 ml/kg) on the blood pressure
and endothelial function of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar–
Kyoto rats. Argan-oil administration reduced the mean blood pressure of SHR after the fifth
week of treatment and increased the endothelial responses of arteries from SHR. A high
concentration of linoleic acid and α-tocopherol could contribute to explaining this effect that was
dependent on both cyclooxygenase products and Nitrogen oxide (Berrougui et al., 2004). Drissi
et al., (2004) reported that argan oil consumers have lower levels of plasma LDL and cholesterol
compared with the non-consumers suggesting that argan oil may reduce cardiovascular risk
factors thus retarding the onset of the atherosclerosis process.
Human group study provides evidence for the hypolipidemic activity of argan oil
(Derouiche et al., 2005). In this strict lipid-controlled study, for baseline measurement 60 men
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were firstly fed with 25 g/day of butter on toasted bread as a source of lipids for two weeks.
After then butter was replaced with 25 ml/day of virgin argan oil for one half of the group, while
the other half received the same amount of virgin olive oil. After three weeks, body mass index
(BMI), systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), serum total cholesterol, HDL, LDL,
apolipoproteins A-I and B, and triglyceride levels were measured and compared with baseline
values. BMI, SBP, DBP, and total cholesterol levels did not significantly change during the
three-week study. In the argan oil group, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly
increased and decreased, respectively.
Antiatherogenic activity of argan oil has recently been studied by Cherki et al., (2005).
They concluded that argan oil consumption has positive effect on oxidative stress plasma
markers and HDL paraoxonase 1 (PON1). In their study (25 ml/day) of argan oil were fed for
three weeks and plasma PON1 activity, antioxidant vitamins, and LDL susceptibility to oxidation
were measured. A significant increase in PON1 activity was observed that reduce the LDL level
in the blood. Argan oil also has ability to reduce platelet aggregation and hence minimize the risk
of thrombosis in cardiovascular events (Mekhfi et al., 2008).
Cytoprotective and anticarcinogenic properties
Tocopherols and saponins derived from argan fruit exert an antiproliferative effect on
human prostate cancer (Drissi et al., 2006). The unsaponifiable fraction of argan oil inhibits
proliferation of several transformed cell lines in a dose-dependent Manner through extracellular-
regulated kinase (ERK1/2) Inactivation (Samane et al., 2006). This antiproliferative effect of
argan oil was demonstrated against HTC liver cells and two cell lines of tumorigenic origin,
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namely the human HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cell line and the transformed and invasive canine
MSV-MDCK-INV cells (Samane et al., 2006).
The antiproliferative effect of polyphenols and sterols extracted from the virgin argan oil
on three human prostatic cell lines (DU145, LNCaP, and PC3) was demonstrated (Bennani et al.,
2007). In more recent study, Bennani, (2009) investigated the effect of polyphenols extracted
from argan oil on the proliferation of two human epithelial cell lines (PNT1A and PC3) and one
epithelial cell lines from dog adenocarcinome (DPC1). Their results showed that the polyphenols
of argan oil exert a dose dependent antiproliferative action on PC3 and DPC1 cell lines.
However, no inhibition effect has been shown on PNT1A cell lines (Bennani, 2009).
Furthermore, El Babili et al., (2010) showed that the ethyl acetate extract of argan fruits was
cytotoxic at 42 mg/ml against human breast cancer cells (MCF7). Similarly squalene in argan oil
is suggested to be protective against skin cancer (Newmark, 1997) and enhances excretion of
xenobiotics in rats and mice (Kamimura et al., 1992).
Antidiabetic effects
Bnouham et al., (2008) showed that the intraperitoneal administration of argan oil (2.5
ml/kg) 30 minutes before the oral glucose loading (1g/kg) induced a significant reduction of
glycemia in healthy and diabetic rats compared to controls. In the subchronic treatment, the
results showed a significant improvement of body mass and a significant reduction of the
glycemia at the end of experiment, when compared with untreated diabetic rats. Moreover,
Argan oil reduced significantly the amount of absorbed glucose in perfused jejunum segment.
However, this effect was less than that of acarbose (alpha-glucosidase inhibitor) (Bnouham et al.,
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2008). Although, argan oil consumption may reduce hyperglycemia-induced pathogenesis. In a
recent study, Bellahcen et al., (2011) confirmed the antidiabetic effect of virgin argan oil. Argan
oil (2ml/kg) was administered orally for 7 consecutive days to rats before and during
intraperitoneal alloxan administration (75mg/kg for 5 consecutive days). An alloxan diabetic-
induced untreated group and treated by table oil were used as control groups. As result, argan oil
prevented the body mass loss and induced a significant reduction of blood glucose and increased
significantly the hepatic glycogen level compared with the untreated diabetic group (Bellahcen et
al., 2011). The antidiabetic effect of argan oil still not yet enough studied, further investigations
in human subjects seem necessary to clarify the possible role of argan oil in reducing weight
loss in diabetics, and even in inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes. Similarly
comparison of the metabolic response of rats to a free-access, high fat/high glucose diet in which
6 percent of the fat was replaced by either argan oil or fish oil showed that both oils resulted in
the restoration of insulin signaling in fat and liver cells (Samane et al., 2009).
Immune system enhancing properties
Biochemical studies have shown that fatty acid profile of argan oil enhances immune
responses (Yaqqob, 2004) especially for lymphocyte proliferation, lymphocyte-derived cytokine
production and cell mediated immunity. Rat studies confirms the dietary effect of argan oil on
the immune system and these studies concluded that argan and olive oil’s effects on immune
cells are similar, and that argan oil has no marked effects on immune cell function (Benzaria,
2006).
Anaphylaxis and Toxicity to argan oil
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There are currently no reported acute or chronic toxicity to argan oil. Recently, a case of
anaphylaxis to argan oil was reported (Astier et al., 2010). It is expected that new cases of allergy
to argan oil could appear due to the expansion of argan oil consumption around the world
because of its unique fatty acids profile. The identified allergen is a protein of 10 kDa, persistent
in oil. This protein could belong to the family of oleosins which are known to be potent allergens
as described for peanut (Olszewski et al., 1998) and sesame (Leduc et al., 2006). The ability to
induce severe reaction at low doses is underlined by the systemic reaction induced by prick-test
and the low reactogenic dose. It must be taken in consideration by oil producers that allergenicity
of argan oil could be suppressed by step of refining (Zitouni et al., 2000).
CONCLUSIONS
The argan oil, extracted from argan-tree fruits, has been used in traditional medicine as a
natural remedy for several centuries. Argan oil is traditionally used for skin, nail and hair care,
cooking, massaging, and healing. Its chemical composition highlights the interest of many
laboratories to use it in their best-selling products. The remarkable properties of the argan oil
evaluated by numerous laboratories are: restoration of the skin water-lipid layer and an increase
in nutrients in the skin cells, stimulation of intracellular oxygen, neutralization of free radicals,
and protection of the conjunctive tissue. Recently, various studies were realized, in vitro or on
human and animal models, suggesting that argan oil could play a beneficial role in
cardiovascular disease prevention and its consumption could protect against atherosclerosis
through a variety of biological mechanisms. It is because of its high contents of specific
antioxidants and mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, that argan oil could be useful in
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preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Its consumption could also increase antioxidant
compounds in the serum of healthy men. Experimental studies have shown the antiproliferative
and pro-apoptotic effects of polyphenols and sterols extracted from argan oil on prostate cancer
cell lines. The utilization of argan oil in diet will gives best results in combating diseases like
cancer, diabetes and cardio vascular diseases. Comprehensive research is need for exploring all
beneficial aspects and mechanism behind curing action of argan oil.
FIGURES CAPITATION
Figure 1: Taxonomy of Argan plant
Figure 2: Triterpene alcohols in argan oil
Figure 3: Sterols present in argan oil
Figure 4: Antioxidants present in Argan oil
Figure 5: Xanthophylls present in Argan oil
TABLE CAPITATION
Table 1: Composition of different argan oil
Table 2: Physicochemical parameters of different argan oils
Table 3: Fatty acid composition of argan oil determined by different scientists
Table 4: Comparison of argan, olive and Moringa oleifera oil
Table 5: Comparison of fatty acid profile of Israeli and Moroccan Argan oils
Table 6: Some recent patents relative to the utilization of argan oil
Table 7: Overview of nutritional and pharmacological benefits of Argan oil
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Figure 1: Taxonomy of Argan plant (Guillaume and Charrouf, 2011)
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Figure 2: Triterpene alcohols in argan oil (Charrouf & Guillaume, 2002)
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Figure 3: Sterols present in argan oil (Charrouf & Guillaume, 2002)
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Figure 4: Antioxidants present in Argan oil (Charrouf & Guillaume, 2002; Khallouki et al.,
2005)
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Figure 5: Xanthophylls present in Argan oil (Croce et al., 1999)
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Table 1: Composition of different argan oil (El-Monfalouti et al., 2010)
Table 2: Physicochemical parameters of different argan oils (Guillaume and Charrouf,
2011; Marfil et al., 2010)
Physico-chemical parameters
Beauty Cosmetic Enriched
Acid Value (mg KOH/g Oil) <1 1 <4
Iodine Value (g I2/100g Oil) 102 98.1 100
Peroxide Value (Meq O2/Kg
Oil)
1.2 0.8 >10
Sponifcation value (mg
KOH/g Oil)
196 195 195
Unsaponifable matter (%) 0.8 1 3.8
TOCOPHEROLS
Total Tocopherols (mg/kg) 771 250 1834
FATTY ACID
COMPOSITION (%)
Palmitic acid 13 13.5 13.5
Stearic acid 5.5 5.5 5.5
Oleic acid 46 47 48
Linoleic acid 35 33 34
Linolenic acid <0.5 <0.5 <0.5
Traditional Oil Edible Oil Cosmetic oil
Materials Roasted Kernels Roasted Kernels Unroasted
Kernels
Process Hand Malaxing Press Solvent or Press
Preservation 7 to 14 days Several months Several Months
Taste Not reproducible Hazelnut like Bitter
Color Yellowish
Brown
Copper like Gold like
Quality Low Very high Very high
Moisture Variable Low very low
Antioxidants Variable High High
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Table 3: Fatty acid composition of argan oil determined by different scientists
Fatty
acid
Zarrouc
k
et al.,
1987
Charrouf
et al.,
1990
Khallou
ki
et al.,
2003
Hilali
et al.,
2005
Charrouf
&
Guillaum
e, 2008
Gharby
et al.,
2011
Range
of values
Myristic
C14:0
0.12–
0.18
0.16 0–0.2 <0.1 0-0.18
Palmitic
C16:0
14.4–
15.6
14.3 13.4 11-15 13-14 11-15.6
Stearic
C18:0
4.5–5.9 5.9 5.1 5.6 4-7 5-6 4-7
Oleic
C18:1
43.3–
48.8
42.8 44.8 45.2–46.9 43-49 47-48 42.8-49
Linoleic
C18:2
30–34.1 36.9 35.7 31.6–34.6 29-36 31-33 29-36.9
Linolenic
C18:3
0.1–0.26
0.15 0.1 0–0.1 <0.2 0-0.26
Arachido
nic
C20:4
0.39 0–0.4 0-0.4
Eicosaen
oic C20:1
0–0.1 0.15 0–0.1 <0.5 0-0.5
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Table 4: Comparison of argan, olive and Moringa oleifera oil (Khallouki et al., 2003;
Tsaknis et al., 1999)
Virgin Argan
oil Virgin Olive oil Moringa Olifera oil
Fatty acid %age
C16:0 13.4 10.4 6.04
C18:0 5.1 2.76 4.14
C18:1 44.8 71 73.6
C18:2 35.7 12.9 0.73
C18:3 0.1 1.04 0.22
Sterols mg/100g oil
Schottenol 142 0 -
Spinasterol 115 0 -
β-Sitosterol 0 156 50.07
Campestrol 0 12 15.13
Stigmasta-8,22-dien-3β-ol 9 0 16.87
Others 29 151 -
Total 295 319 -
Tocopherols mg/kg oil
alpha 35 190 98.82
Beta 122 42 27.9
Gamma 480 26 71.16
Total 637 358
Phenolic compounds µg/kg oil
Vanilic acid 67 359 -
Syringic acid 37 0 -
Ferulic acid 3147 51 -
Tyrosol 12 19,573 -
others - 773,000 -
Total 3,263 792,983 -
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Table 5: comparison of fatty acid profile of Israeli and Moroccan Argan oils (Yaghmur et
al., 1999)
Range (wt %)
Fatty acid Profile Israeli oil Moroccan oil
Myristic acid (14:0) 0.2 0.2-0.3
Palmitic acid (16:0) 13-15 12-14
Palmitoleic acid
(16:1) - 0-1
Srearic acid (18:1) 2-4 5-7
Oleic acid (18:1) 46-55 42-47
Linoleic acid (18:2) 28-35 31-37
Linolenic acid (18:3) 0-0.5 0-1
Arachidonic acid
(20:4) 0-0.3 0-1
Gadoleic acid (20:1) - trace
Behenic acid (22:0) 0 trace
TUFA/TSFA1 4.93 4.29
1TUFA, total unsaturated fatty acids; TSFA, total saturated fatty acids
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Table 6: Some recent patents relative to the utilization of argan oil
PATENT
NUMBER
STATEMENTS
EP 1958 614 A1 Composition comprising argan oil (up to 40 wt.%) and a plant-based
product of the aloe genus, and its cosmetic use
US 7871766 B2 Cosmetic and/or dermopharmaceutical preparations containing native
proteins from the plant argania spinosa
WO 01/37792 Dermatological compositions which comprise rice starch, coconut
products, shea butter, borage oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and
optionally 1.5% by weight of argan oil
FR 2756183 Pharmaceutical or cosmetic composition which comprises a
combination of argan oil and argan peptides
FR 2553788 Method for preparing a lipidic extract of argan fruit
EP 1764085 Cosmetic composition which comprises at least 10% by weight of
argan oil
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Table 7: Overview of nutritional and pharmacological benefits of Argan oil
REFERENCES PHARMACOLOGICAL ROLE
(Drissi et al., 2004) Reduction of LDL Cholesterol
(Charrouf et al., 2002) Cure of pimples, acne and chicken pox Pustules
(Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999) Solution of skin wrinkles and dryness
(Semerano et al., 2011) Solution of rhumatological problems
(Charrouf and Guillaume, 1999) Help in joint movement and arthritis
(Bellakhdar, 1997) hepatoprotective agent
(Moukal and L’arganier, 2004) atherosclerosis reduction
(Derouiche et al., 2005; Richard et al.,
2011)
reducing in plasma cholesterol
(Perdomo et al., 2011) increase efficiency of prostaglandins
(Ames and Shiegenaga, 1992) Reduction of aging Process
(Bennani et al., 2007; Drissi et al., 2006) controlling prostate cancer
(Dobrev, 2007) sebum control properties
(Charrouf and Guillaume, 2008) Softness and protection of hairs
(Yaqqob, 2004) anti-inflammatory properties
(Berrougui et al., 2004) Reduction in Hypertension
(Cherki et al., 2005) Antiatherogenic activity
(Mekhfi et al., 2008) reduction in platelet aggregation
(Newmark, 1997) protection against skin cancer
(Bellahcen et al., 2011; Bnouham et al.,
2008)
Antidiabitic properties
(Astier et al., 2010) Argan oil triggers allergic reaction
(Benzaria, 2006) Argan oil does not influence immune system
(Derouiche et al., 2005) Argan oil has no impact on thyroid hormone
profile
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... cell damage thanks to its free radical scavenging properties [10]. Moreover, c-tocopherol (7,8-dimethyltocol) has been found to have an effect on various types of tumours, even more powerful than α-tocopherol, β-tocopherol (5,8dimethyltocol), and δ-tocopherol (8-methyltocol) [11]. Tocopherols and tocotrienols are present in fruits and plant seeds [12]. ...
Article
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Valorisation of Argan oil requires the precise identification of different provenances markers. The concentration of tocopherol is regarded as one of the essential parameters that certifies the quality and purity of Argan oil. In this study, 39 Argan samples from six different geographical origins (Safi, Essaouira, Agadir, Taroudant, Tiznit, and Sidi Ifni) from the central west of Morocco were collected and extracted using cold pressing. The total tocopherol amount was found to range from 783.23 to 1,271.68 mg/kg. Generally, γ-tocopherol has the highest concentration in Argan oil. It should also be noted that the geographical origin was found to have a strong effect on the amounts of all tocopherol homologues studied. Principal component analysis of tocopherol concentrations highlighted a significant difference between the different provenances. The content of tocopherol has also been found to be strongly influenced by the distance from the coast and altitude, whereas no significant effect was found regarding other ecological parameters. The prediction ability of the LDA models was 87.2%. The highest correct classification was revealed in coastal provenances (100%), and the lowest values were from the continental ones (71.4%). These results provide the basis for determining the geographical origins of Argan oil production with well-defined characteristics to increase the product’s value and the income of local populations. In addition, this study provides a very promising basis for developing Argan varieties with a high content of tocopherol homologues, as well as contributing to the traceability and protection of Argan oil’s geographical indication.
... Furthermore, several studies reported the effect of argan oil on cardiovascular diseases such as, hyperlipidemia (Drissi et al., 2004), hypercholesterolemia (El Kharrassi et al., 2014), and high blood pressure related diseases (Charrouf and Guillaume, 2008). In addition, the modulation of plasmatic lipids and lipoproteins of Argan oil have been evaluated (Alaoui et al., 2001;El Abbassi et al., 2014). Berrada et al. (2000) related the effect of argan oil on spontaneously hypertensive rats, and described the stabilization of blood pressure and induction of hypocholesterolemia in another group of rats that suffer from hyperinsulinemia. ...
Article
Ethnopharmacological relevance The argan [Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels] is one of the most important floristic resource in Morocco, it is the only representative of the Sapotaceae family and Argania genus found in Morocco. This tree is fully exploited by the native populations for nutrition, medication and cosmetics. The argan oil extracted from seed is the main tree product for his large use. Aim of the review This review describes the traditional uses, chemical composition and biological activities of different the argan tree parts. Materials and methods This review covers the literature available from 1972 to 2021. The informations were collected from electronic databases Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, SciFinder and Google Scholar. Results Argan oil have been used for nutrition, and to treat several diseases, namely rheumatisms, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis, lung infections, newborn gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, skin and hair hydration. The other parts of Argan tree have been used to treat intestinal disorders, dermatosis, and hair caring, with additional uses such as livestock nutrition, carpentry and heating. The argan oil is primarily composed of unsaturated fatty acids mainly oleic and linoleic acids furthermore the chemical composition, of the others part, are very diversified (flavonoids, terpenoids, triacylglycerols, saponins. …). Diverse biological activities have been reported for argan oil, such as antioxidant, skin water retention, hair protection, cholesterol stabilization, antidiabetic, anticancer and antibacterial. Antimicrobial activities have been reported for argan leaves essential oils, when the fruit pulp organic extract presented very interesting antioxidant activity due to the presence of polyphenols. The argan cake is the seed waste produced during the extraction process, it is traditionally used for skin care and for livestock nutrition. Different biological activities of argan cake have been cited essentially antioxidant, haemoprotective, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.
... The regular consumption of Argan oil could protect the human body from cancer and heart diseases [46]. The quality and purity of the hand pressed Argan oil were tested and investigated measuring 35 chemical parameters ( Table 2). ...
Article
Full-text available
The Argan tree (Argania spinosa. L) is an evergreen tree endemic of southwestern Morocco. For centuries, various formulations have been used to treat several illnesses including diabetes. However, scientific results supporting these actions are needed. Hence, Argan fruit products (i.e., cake byproducts (saponins extract) and hand pressed Argan oil) were tested for their in-vitro anti-hyperglycemic activity, using α-glucosidase and α-amylase assays. The in-vivo anti-hyperglycemic activity was evaluated in a model of alloxan-induced diabetic mice. The diabetic animals were orally administered 100 mg/kg body weight of aqueous saponins cake extract and 3 mL/kg of Argan oil, respectively, to evaluate the anti-hyperglycemic effect. The blood glucose concentration and body weight of the experimental animals were monitored for 30 days. The chemical properties and composition of the Argan oil were assessed including acidity, peroxides, K232, K270, fatty acids, sterols, tocopherols, total polyphenols, and phenolic compounds. The saponins cake extract produced a significant reduction in blood glucose concentration in diabetic mice, which was better than the Argan oil. This decrease was equivalent to that detected in mice treated with metformin after 2–4 weeks. Moreover, the saponins cake extract showed a strong inhibitory action on α-amylase and α-glucosidase, which is also higher than that of Argan oil.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of phenotypic diversity of argan fruit with different morphological characteristics (fusiform, oval, apiculate and spherical) on fat and protein content, inflexibility and fat chemical composition, oil acids and sterols. To investigate the links of argan fruit shape with the chemical composition of argan oil, with the help of native communities, 4 different fruit shapes (fusiform, apiculate, spherical and oval) were selected, which were harvested from the same place (Tamanar) in Essaouira province (South Plain region, Western Morocco). After harvesting the fruit of the argan tree, 100 samples were taken from each form. They were crushed to destroy the core. After extraction of hexane with Soxhlet, fat content, protein level, unsaponifiable content, composition of fatty acids and sterols in fat were determined. The results showed that the oval shape is the best shape of argan fruit because their kernels contain more than 50% fat and a higher percentage of unsaponifiables. The results on fatty acids and sterols showed that argan oil contained 80% of unsaturated fatty acids. The results also showed that the main products of the sterol composition in argan oil were schottenol (or Δ-7-stigmasterol) (42.8 and 46.4%) and spinasterol (39.8 and 45.6%). The study of the chemical composition showed that there was no correlation between the shape of the fruit of the argan tree and the composition of fatty acids. Depending on the shape of the argan fruit, fatty acids and sterols were not only related to the shape but also to the nature of the soil and its altitude, longitude and distance from the sea.
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