Argan oil for culinary use
Cooking or preparing food with Argan oil

Author: Dr. Lisa Dinh
Date: 24.07.2020
Reading time: 6:55 min

A person experienced in Moroccan cuisine and flavours, can confirm the typical nutty taste of argan oil, which adds an exotic note to salads, vegetable and casserole dishes.

Many dishes, whether soups, salads, stews or desserts, can easily be transformed into delicious gourmet dishes with argan oil. Argan oil is not just a delicacy, it is also therapeutic. Even the Amazigh, the indigenous people of Morocco who have been using argan oil for cooking for centuries, value the oil for both its typical taste and its bioactive ingredients.

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They were also well aware of the beneficial impacts of the oil on skin, hair and wound healing. Since the late 1990s, scientists around the world have been working on these effects on health and have been able to demonstrate that regular consumption of argan oil protects against cardiovascular problems and high cholesterol, among other illnesses, and ensures balanced hormone levels. This is especially helpful for women during and after menopause

Consumption - nutritional supplement

If you have decided not only to use argan oil externally, but also to benefit from the positive effects of it internally, a recommended dose is 1 - 3 tablespoons per day for a prolonged period. Of course, one can also pour this daily amount over vegetables, salads and casseroles and enjoy the wonderful natural taste of the oil. Good medicine doesn't have to be bitter!

If you don't like the taste of pure argan oil, you can take argan oil in capsular form as well. Tisy is a good solution for people on the go. However, the price for capsules is significantly higher than for price for argan cooking oil. This is because in 60 capsules there are only about 40 grams of argan oil.

Properties

Approximately 80 percent of Argan oil consists of unsaturated fatty acids, which play a crucial role in healthy cells, which ultimately produce skin and hair. These fats serve our cells as natural moisturisers without disturbing the body's functionality.

Roasting & cooking

rgan oil is a "must" in Moroccan cuisine - many traditional dishes are refined with argan oil. Nevertheless, it also has a role to play in the simplistic kitchen: in Morocco, bread is dipped in pure oil for eating. Only the edible oil from the roasted argan tree kernels is used for this. The smell is reminiscent of nuts and goes just as well with hearty, spicy dishes as it does with desserts.

Argan oil can also be used to refine other European dishes such as simple vegetables, rice, potato and pasta bakes, vegetable soups, risottos and cold dishes such as salads, dips and sauces. The oil should only be distributed over vegetables and side dishes such as potatoes, couscous, bulgur and buckwheat only after cooking, just before consumption. For salads and raw food, it can be added to the salad dressing or spread directly over the completed salad. For raw foods and vegetable juices, oil is necessary to release beta carotene, especially pronounced in carrots. A very small amount of oil is sufficient for this.

You can also fry with argan oil because it can be heated up to 250 degrees. However, the precious oil is almost too valuable for this and loses many of its unique ingredients when seared or heated. Alternatively, you can use it in a steamer that retains positive ingredients, both from argan oil and from the other ingredients.

Argan oil - roasted or unroasted?

The exotic, nutty taste develops when the seeds are roasted before pressing, and this is the source of the traditional flavours of Moroccan cooking oil. However, it cannot only be used to refine dishes. It is also suitable as a nutritional supplement in which you take 1 to 3 tablespoons a day. You can also use the cooking oil as a directly applicable skin and hair oil - if you don't mind the nutty smell.

With argan oil for use in cosmetics, the kernels are not roasted beforehand. Since the peeling process for cosmetic oil is carried out mechanically and remnants of the shell stick to the seeds, cosmetic oil often has a bitter taste and is therefore not suitable as an edible product. If you only want to use argan oil externally for skin and hair care, you can buy cosmetic argan oil. For consumption, buy virgin, 100% argan oil in health food stores, well-stocked supermarkets or delicatessens and of course on the Internet.

If the oil smells rancid or unpleasant, it may not be 100% pure argan oil or it may have been stored incorrectly or for too long. Argan oil has a shelf life of about two years when stored in a cool, dark place, after which it becomes rancid and is no longer suitable for consumption.

Ingredients of 100 ml argan oil

Argan oil contains no protein, no cholesterol and no carbohydrates. The energy value is 900 kcal / 3700 kJ. It is 100% fat.

100 gfatty acids:
19 gsaturated fatty acids
47 gmonounsaturated fatty acids
34 gPolyunsaturated fatty acids
46 mgOleic acid
34 mgLinoleic acids

All the fatty acids it contains actualy keep blood lipid levels low, cholesterol levels constant and the body resilient and equipped to fight free radicals. The secret of argan oil’s uniquely powerful effects lies in its balanced mixture of fats!

The most important ingredients of the unsaturated fatty acids are linoleic acid and oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid):

Linoleic acid, one of the most effective anti-ageing ingredients, promotes radiant skin and shiny hair, helps with inflammatory skin processes such as acne, psoriasis and dark skin discontinuation (hyperpigmentation).

Oleic acid has a positive influence on the HDL, the "good cholesterol" and the total cholesterol, which is why the risk of heart attack decreases with regular consumption. It lowers blood pressure and protects against dementia by improving and maintaining nerve conductivity. The strong antioxidant effect supports mature and dry skin and makes it a popular additive for anti-ageing products. In hair care, the oil works well for dry hair and split ends, as well as for dandruff and dry, itchy scalp.

Other ingredients and their effects

Provitamin A: a natural red pigment that also occurs in other vegetables and fruits, is also called beta-carotene. It catches and destroys free radicals and stimulates cell growth. The body cannot produce this vitamin itself. The body can only produce vitamin A by ingesting provitamin A - the precursor.

Tocopherols - Vitamin-E: Vitamin E, or tocopherol, is only produced by plants and is only found in vegetable oils in high concentrations. It strengthens the immune system, protects against inflammation, harmful environmental toxins and slows down the ageing process. It prevents cardiovascular diseases, promotes blood circulation, lowers blood lipid levels and blood pressure, as Studies in Morocco in 2004 and 2005 show. It facilitates joint lubrication, maintains vein elasticity and ensures better digestion.

Phytosterines: Schottenol and Spinasterol These rare substances are being investigated in more detail in studies globally. They reduce the formation of cholesterol in the body and are thought to protect against breast and prostate cancer. Schottenol is said to be able to destroy prostate cancer cells. Spinasterol is said to stimulate cell growth and renewal. Studies that prove this are still pending.

Polyphenols with antioxidant effects Like the famous oxygen radical scavengers vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, polyphenols protect our cells and are also anti-inflammatory. It is believed that they have a preventive effect on heart attacks, tumors and macular degeneration. They have a regulating influence on hormonal balance (homeostasis) and relieve symptoms of menopause.

Flavonoids with antibacterial and antifungal effect Flavonoids are plant pigments that give fruit colour and taste. They destroy bacteria and fungi of the skin. Quercetin has antimicrobial and cell protecting effects. Similar to vitamins A, C and E, quercetin has antioxidant properties and acts as an oxygen radical scavenger.

Squalene, a triterpene Squalene is part of the hydrolipid film layer in the skin and is also found in blood serum. It protects the skin from dehydration and makes it supple and soft. Squalene also stimulates the immune system.

Since the 1990s, many studies have been carried out that deal with the effects of argan oil and its ingredients. The German scientist Dr. Peter Schleicher found a the 30 - 50 percent higher antioxidant effect in Argan oil compared to olive oil: Dr. Peter Schleicher, “The healing effects of Moroccan gold argan oil”, Munich 2013