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The Chemistry of Argan Oil

two argan trees growing in red sand

What is in Argan Oil that makes it so good for skin, hair?

Why is Culinary Argan Oil so popular for use as a health supplement?

Argan has a high nutrient content and complex chemistry. It is this complex blend of biologically active compounds that gives it its benefits for skincare and health.

Here we discuss all the most active nutrients from Triglycerides to Saponins.

What is in Argan Oil?

Triterpene alcohols

Many components of Argan Oil are biologically active Triterpenoids.

The oil contains triterpenens, tirucallol, beta amyrine, butyrospermol, and lupeol.

These compounds have bio-active effects that include:

  • tirucallol (27.9%)–cicatrisation
  • beta amyrine (27.3%)–skin protection
  • butyrospermol ( 18%)–anti inflammatory
  • lupeol (7%)–antiseptic


The Argan tree is rich in Saponins.

These compounds protect against infective fungi, bacteria and protozoa.
Many compounds in the oil are also thought to have possible anti-cancer effects. THe natural phytosterols are well nown for their cholesterol lowering activity.

Omega Fatty Acids

Argan oil is rich in Omega fatty acids.

Linoleic acid increases the production of prostaglandins 1. This makes it of special interest and potentially beneficial for people with rheumatologic conditions and cardiovascular problems.

Fatty acids are active in the maintenance and repair of the membrane that encloses the cells. In fact, more than 80% of Argan oil’s fatty acids are the unsaturated acids oleic (43%) and linoleic (36%).

Oleic fatty acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps reduce blood levels of LDLs (“bad cholesterol”).
Because Argan Oil is rich in vitamin B, it can be eaten without taking in too much fat.

Linoleic Acid
Linoleic is a polyunsaturated fatty acid or essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized from our body and thus has to be brought from outside. Polyunsaturated fats help lower the level of LDLs and therefore have often been recommended to reduce coronary heart disease.

Typical Fatty Acid Content of Argan Oil

Fatty acid by %

  1. Schottenol 142 mg – 100g
  2. Spinasterol 115 mg – 100g
  3. Stigmasta-8,22-dien-3β-ol 009 mg/100g
  4. Others 029 mg/100g
  5. Total 295 mg/100g


Moroccan Argan Oil has a very high Squalene content of around 31Omg per lOOg.

Squalene is an important compound as it is thought to be protective against skin cancer.
Research suggests that increased consumption of natural food oils gives a significantly decreased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer. Two leading scientists Theresa J. Smith en Harold L Newmark suggest that this effect is due squalene.

In countries around the Mediterranean sea, there is a high squalene consumption (200-400 mg per day= 2 capsules). This is due to the widespread daily use of olive oil.

For lovers of olive oil and olives, this can add up to one gram per day per person.

Tocopherols( Vitamin E ) & Anti-oxidants

One of the most powerful Anti-oxidants is Tocopherol/ Vitamin E.

Alpha-Tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol are the two important forms of vitamin E in human plasma and the primary lipid-soluble antioxidants. Alpha-tocopherol makes up 69% of the tocopherols found in Argan Oil.

Antioxidant flavonoids and Tocopherols found in Argan and cannot be synthesized by the body. These antioxidants are involved in many activities including promoting good circulation and acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Argan oil is about twice as rich in tocopherol as olive oil (620 mg/kg vs. 320mg/kg). The main tocopherol is by far alpha-tocopherol (69%) whose eutrophic activity of well known, beta and gamma-tocopherol are found in roughly equal proportions (16% and 13% respectively), delta-tocopherol is a much minor component (2%).

Gamma tocopherol can protect against nitrogen-based free radicals, which alpha-tocopherol cannot do. Researchers found that large doses of alpha-tocopherol depleted plasma levels of gamma-tocopherol, while the presence of gamma-tocopherol promoted the accumulation of alpha-tocopherol. Aging is associated with a decline in plasma levels of gamma-tocopherol, but not of alpha-tocopherol.

Tocopherols mg per kg oil

  • Alpha           35
  • Beta            122
  • Gamma      480
  • Total          637

Phenolic compounds µg/kg oil

Phenolic compounds are produced by plants, microorganisms and industrially.

Phenolic compounds are synthesised in response to ecological pressures such as insect attack, physical wounding and UV radiation. 
They are also found in food and plants that are used in natural medicine.

Phenolic compounds by µg/kg oil

Vanillic acid      67
Syringic acid     37
Ferulic acid  3147
Tyrosol           12
Total          3,263

Where to Buy Argan Oil

You can buy directly from some web pages where you see the add to cart buttons.
You can visit our full online store to see our full range of cosmetic and culinary Argan Oil products.
All prices that you will see include Free Delivery Worldwide.

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