Health Benefits and Uses of Almond Oil
Almonds are a satisfying food with many potential health benefits.
The oil that comes from these delicious tree nuts is commonly used as a natural ingredient in skin and hair care, but few people realize that it may also be good for your health.
This article uncovers how almond oil may benefit your health and how it can be used as a multipurpose, non-toxic beauty treatment.
Almonds are the edible seeds of the Prunus dulcis tree, more commonly known as the almond tree.
Although almonds are commonly referred to as nuts, they’re actually the seeds found at the center of the almond fruit, which closely resembles a peach.
Almonds can be consumed whole, ground into flour, and even made into non-dairy milk.
They are very rich in fat, making them a perfect source of oil.
Sweet almonds are the variety typically eaten and used to make foods, oils, and cosmetics.
Meanwhile, bitter almonds are believed to have medicinal properties, though they can be toxic if they’re not properly processed. Moreover, they’re not widely available.
Refined vs Unrefined Almond Oil
After harvesting, almonds are hulled and dried before different methods are used to extract their oil.
Refined almond oil is extracted from almonds using high-heat processing and chemicals.
This method negatively affects the nutritional value of the oil, as many of the nutrients found in raw almond oil are destroyed during high-heat or chemical treatments.
While this method results in a less nutritious oil, refined almond oil can withstand much higher temperatures and is less expensive than the unrefined type, making it a more cost-effective option for consumers.
Unrefined almond oil is made by pressing raw almonds without the use of high heat or chemical agents.
This low-heat process helps almond oil retain much of its nutrient content, making unrefined almond oil a better choice for culinary uses.
Potential Health Benefits of Almond Oil
Whole almonds are thought to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss, and almond oil may be good for your health as well.
In fact, almond oil has been linked to a wide range of potential health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
May Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
Almond oil consists of 70% monounsaturated fat, which has been researched for its effects on heart health.
Monounsaturated fats have been shown to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
HDL is a type of protein that carries cholesterol away from the arteries and transports it to the liver, where it is broken down and excreted from the body. Healthy levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to help protect against heart disease.
Both almonds and almond oil have also been shown to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
High levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol are considered risk factors for heart disease. Lowering these levels can help keep the heart-healthy.
In one small study, a diet rich in almond oil significantly lowered both LDL and total cholesterol levels, while raising HDL cholesterol by 6%.
High in Antioxidants
Almond oil is a great source of the potent antioxidant vitamin E.
In fact, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of this nutty oil delivers 26% of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin E is a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that have antioxidant properties.
These compounds protect cells from harmful substances called free radicals.
While free radicals are necessary for health, they can cause damage if their numbers grow too high in the body.
Free radical overload leads to oxidative damage and has been linked to a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Studies have shown that higher intakes of vitamin E can help lower the risk of heart disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cognitive decline in the elderly.
May Be Beneficial for Blood Sugar Control
Adding almond oil to your diet may help keep your blood sugar stable.
This oil is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, both of which have been shown to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
In fact, replacing carbs with unsaturated fats has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance and levels of HbA1c, a marker for long-term blood sugar control.
In one study, participants who consumed a breakfast with added almond oil had lower blood sugar, both after the meal and throughout the day, compared to participants who did not eat almond oil.
What’s more, the participants who consumed almond oil felt fuller after their meal, leading them to consume less throughout the day.
May Aid Weight Loss When Paired With a Reduced-Calorie Diet
A diet rich in healthy fats may help you lose weight.
Many people avoid fats when they’re trying to drop pounds, but consuming the right kinds of fats can be beneficial for weight loss.
A diet that includes a healthy amount of whole almonds has been shown to help people shed excess weight. Likewise, adding almond oil to your diet may help you lose fat.
Diets rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to decrease body fat and promote weight loss.
In one study, a diet high in monounsaturated fats improved weight loss and body composition in obese women.
Another large study including 7,447 people found that a diet high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats led to a greater reduction in body weight and belly fat, compared to a low-fat diet.
The Bottom Line
Almond oil is a versatile fat that can be used as a food or natural beauty product.
Almond oil may promote heart health, stabilize blood sugar levels, prevent free radical damage and help you maintain a healthy weight.
What’s more, the oil makes an excellent moisturizer for both the skin and hair, and it may even help prevent stretch marks and protect your skin from sun damage.
Unrefined almond oil retains more nutrients than refined almond oil and is better for culinary uses. Just make sure you don’t heat it, as doing so will destroy some of its nutrients.
No matter how you choose to use this interesting oil, it makes an excellent addition to both your pantry and vanity.