Argan Oil Impresses in Heart Health Study

November 22, 2011

Early research on the popular cosmetic ingredient suggests a potential for supporting heart health.

Argan oil has already found favor with skin and hair care industries, but new research is unearthing argan oil’s potential for supporting heart health. European researchers assigned 40 healthy adults to consume daily argan oil or placebo for four weeks. The study is now available at the British Journal of Nutrition.

Argan oil is produced from the fruits of argan trees (Argania spinosa), native to Morocco and Algeria. The oil contains small amounts of bioactive compounds such as phytosterols and tocopherols, but is saught for cosmetic use due to its rich source of fatty acids.

To determine the effect argan oil consumption might play on cardiovascular health, researchers assigned adult subjects to a daily breakfast of 15 g of argan oil with toasted bread or their habitual diet (control) for four weeks. Subjects completed daily food consumption questionnaires and had their plasma lipid profiles and antioxidant status measured at baseline, day 15, and day 30 for surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease.  

Total intake of total proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids did not differ significantly between the groups, but, understandably, subjects taking argan oil showed higher overall consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Where argan oil showed most striking significance, however, was in several changes on heart health markers. After 30 days of consumption, argan oil decreased triglycerides by 20.97%, total cholesterol by 14.63%, and LDL cholesterol by 16.05%. Argan oil also increased vitamin E plasma concentrations and reduced susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to copper-induced oxidation.

Control subjects saw no significant changes in scores relating to these markers.

The study adds to what the researchers admit is limited science on argan oil consumption and heart health, but the promise of early results encourages further research.