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Argan [Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels] oil

Guillaume D., Pioch D., Charrouf Z.. 2019. In : Ramadan Mohamed Fawzy (ed.). Fruit oils: chemistry and functionality. Cham : Springer, p. 317-352.

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-12473-1_16

Argan oil is extracted from the kernels of Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels, a tree that almost exclusively grows endemically in southern Morocco. If argan oil was initia11y only known around its traditional production area, major efforts combining chemical, agronomic and human sciences have led to its international recognition and marketing. In addition, to ensure the sustainable production of a sufficient quantity of argan kernels, a vast and unprecedented program that led to the reforestation of large areas of drylands has been developed in Morocco. Therefore, argan oil production is considered as an economic and ecologic success. Edible argan oil is prepared by cold-pressing roasted argan kernels. Unroasted kernels afford an oil of cosmetic grade, showing a bitter taste. Both oils, which are not refined and are virgin oils, share a similar fatty acid content that includes oleic and linoleic acids as major components. Additiona11y, argan oil is rich in antioxidants. Together, these components likely contribute to the oil pharmacological properties that, in humans, traditionally included cardiovascular disease and skin protection. Recent scientific studies have greatly expanded the scope of these pharmacological activities. Argan oil is now rewarded with a "Geographic Indication" that certifies its exclusive and authentic Moroccan origin and the compliance with strict production rules. In addition, the quality of argan oil can nowadays be ascertained by using an array of physicochemica1 methods. By-products, generated in large quantity during argan oil production, are also finding promising development routes.

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