Andrea Parodi presents the oil of argan nuts

Raw material – Argan

Argan (Argania Spinosa) is a tree endemic in Morocco (covers about the 70% of the forest surface of the south-west region) and is very resistant. It can live even 150-200 years. It belongs to the SAPOTACEAE family to which Shea and Sapote belong. When mature, Argan fruit is yellow and its pulp has a strong perfume. For this reason, wild animals are attracted by this fruit and in Morocco goats eat it, expelling the stone on the ground, a self-sowing action that has been going on for hundreds of years.
Our chain of production involves different Berbers’ cooperatives who sun-dry the berries. Afterwards, they separate, by hand, the external part of the fruit from the seed.
Unlike many oily nuts, Argan has a peculiarity. Its nut is located inside, into two valves and it is not simple to separate it mechanically (industrially). Parodi Nutra’s supplier of Argan nuts is a cooperative that collaborates with women (who, for hundreds of years, have been supporting themselves thanks to this manual activity) who use skilfully special stones that, manually beating on a mortar, let the nut come out in a second.
Once they obtain the nuts, they let them dry for some days to obtain the right degree of moisture and for the following operation, oil extraction.
After the manufacturing cycle to obtain the seed from fruit, we get about one litre of oil from 100kg of fruit.
Interesting facts: it seems that there are specimens of Argan in Mexico, while in Italy there is a specimen of Argan in a botanical garden in Cagliari, from 1866.

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Argan Oil – Production

The percentage of Argan Oil in nuts is very high and depends, anyway, from the humidity degree of the nut, which usually varies from the 49 to the 70%.
Argan oil is obtained through cold pressing. For some clients of the food sector the nuts are toasted to obtain an oil with a more pleasant taste in comparison to crude oil.
The typical smell of Argan nuts oil is fairly peculiar and pleasant. Our range of production also includes deodorised Argan nuts oil obtained through distillation in a current of steam (physical distillation) and filtered afterwards.
The colour of Argan oil can go from pale yellow to pink. The colour depends on the typical colour of the seed and of its shell, tending to pink/brown. The colour is due to a pigment in crude oil that is sensitive to heat. During the deodorisation process, which exceeds 120°C, Argan oil can get a pink colour. The oil is very stable to oxidation and, for this reason, it is widely used in luxury cosmetic preparations.
Interesting facts: Since thousands of years Argan oil, as shea butter, is produced by cooperatives of women who extract it through laborious handcrafted processes. The chain of production, from tree to oil, follows some common steps:

  • Nut husking and drying of fruit.
  • Fruit shelling and drying the nut.

Armelline and nuts are then crushed and reduced in a pulp mixing them with hot water, in order to help the extraction of oil. The mixture is pressed by hand or by a press. In Africa, once the mixture is washed, they separate the fibrous part by immerging it in hot water: the butter emerges and it is, then, filtered on cotton cloths. Maybe hundreds of years ago women in Italy used to make almonds oil the same way.

Properties of Argan Oil

Argan oil is quickly absorbed by skin without leaving it oily. Argan gives a soft, smooth and silky sensation. The moisturising and barrier effect on skin is kept high in time, guaranteeing benefit and nourishment to dehydrated skin.
Emollient properties of Argan oil make it suitable to prevent skin relaxation.
Thanks to the high concentration of essential fatty acids and of E vitamin it protects from external aggressions, neutralizing free radicals, ensuring hydration and replenishing skin with lipids. Argan oil strengthens natural protections, helps cellular oxygenation making the skin more moisturised and vital. It is also suitable to prevent skin relaxation, to mitigate redness and eczema; it also helps healing skin burns.
The soothing action of Argan oil is useful in case of sprains and bruises. Among its properties, we have to mention the antiseptic power to fight against microorganisms which cause skin infections.
Argan oil is an excellent anti-age oil, that repairs cellular membranes after the damaging action of free radicals and has an anti-age effect that makes it a perfect ally to moisturise, nourish and protect your body from external aggressions.

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Other benefits of Argan oil

  • Reactivates vital functions of cells
  • Improves muscle tone
  • Attenuates the appearance of wrinkles
  • Conceals under eye circles
  • Makes your skin smooth
  • Reduces skin sensitivity
  • Eliminates itching, reduces desquamation and cicatrizes sores and small injuries
  • Helps keeping and re-establish skin physiological PH.

Our Argan oil – Features

Argan oil contains more than 80% of unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic 34%, linolenic 0,1% and oleic 46%), while among the saturated the major components are palmitic 13% and stearic 5%. Argan nuts oil is rich in tocopherols, flavonoids, carotenoids and xantophylls, sterols and triterpenes compounds with anti-oxidant action, that, besides the biological effects and nutritional benefits, provide a great stability towards oxidation processes and explain the better storability.

Fatty acids:

  • SATURATED FATTY ACIDS 16-20%
  • Palmitic acid 12% / Stearic acid 6%
  • MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS 45-50%
  • Oleic acid 40-45%
  • POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS 32-40%
  • Linoleic acid 33-36%
  • Alpha linolenic acid < 0.5%

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The unsaponifiable fraction is not particularly high in percentage but it is characterized by the presence of triterpenic alcohols among which there are: Tirucallol (20-30%) which is a cicatrizant agent, Beta-Amyrin (20-30%) helping skin protection, Butyrospermol (15-22%) which is an anti-inflammatory and Lupeol (6-9%) that has antiseptic properties.
Here below some data:
Triterpenic Alcohols mg/kg 600-800 / Total Sterols 1200-3000 mg/kg / Alcanols mg/kg 20-40 / Total Tocopherols mg/kg 100-200* / Squalene more than 0.3%.
*some studies have reported a value of total Tocopherols between 600-900mg/kg that, according to us, are not realistic. From the tests we carried out on crude oil the content in Tocopherols is around a maximum value of 200mg/kg