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Thursday, 28 April 2011 12:45

Argan Oil... Liquid Gold

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argan1_optIn the Southwestern parts of Morocco, argan oil is extracted from the nuts of argan trees. Often times referred to as “liquid gold,” this oil has recently been classified, on the World Heritage List, as endangered due to its severe exploitation.

The process used to extract this precious oil from the argan tree is a manual and laborious process that has become a tradition among the local Berber women. The production of argan oil allows these women to gain social benefits in a country where equal rights are not yet fully established; affording them a sustainable livelihood and an opportunity to earn fair wages.

Over the years, the Berber women have formed cooperatives to keep the production techniques, manufacturing, and controlling of argan oil in check. As mentioned before, the process of manually producing this oil is laborious. The initial stage of this process is the actual removal of the nut from the fruit. Next, the shell of each nut is forcibly opened to obtain the kernel. Once all of the kernels are collected they are roasted over mild heat. Then, the roasted kernels are left to cool, ground in a quern made out of stone, and then blended with water into dough.

Mechanical presses are now becoming more widely used for efficiency reasons. The process of cracking the nuts of the argan tree is still done by hand, but after the roasting of the kernels, the nuts are ground and extracted using a mechanical press. As a result of this time consuming and labor intensive process, whether it is manual or mechanical, the oil from this tree is quite costly, however the great number of benefits received from the oil itself increases the value substantially.

In regards to our personal health and beauty, argan oil is an outstanding choice. There are two types of argan oil, one used for cosmetic purposes and one for culinary purposes. As a culinary medium, argan oil is slightly darker than olive oil, with a reddish tinge and it is appreciated for its unique, rich flavor. Beyond its taste the oil is also known for its health benefits helping a person’s body effectively control cholesterol – due to its monosaturated fat and oleic acid content; it assists in stimulating circulation; and helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses.

Beyond its nutritional benefits, argan oil has many beautifying effects as well. As a cosmetic medium, The oil is magnificent for the hair, skin, and nails. In addition, argan oil is a rich source for vitamin E (a strong antioxidant) making it a great way to combat the aging process. Another benefit from this oil is its ability to assist in locking moisture within the skin’s cells. The reduction of moisture evaporation, upon contact, is another benefit from the use of the oil on the skin making it an excellent choice to use after waxing.

From internally assisting the body in maintaining a healthy life to externally nurturing the skin thereby stimulating a natural youthfulness, argan oil provides unparalleled results making it worthy of its informal title… “liquid gold.”

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