Obesity is a medical condition that occurs due to many factors and is a worldwide concern.
It is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the body to an extent that has a negative effect on health.
It is mainly caused due to overeating, lack of physical activity and genetic factors.
However, obesity can be prevented by incorporating changes in the diet, exercising, medications or surgery. Although preventable it has become a major cause of death worldwide.
In 2013, obesity was classified as a disease by the American Medical Association.
In addition to low-calorie diet and exercise, scientists are working upon other alternatives like dietary components that help in resolving complications of obesity by providing anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lowering levels of cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Extensive research carried out in this field suggests that dietary intake of argan oil can help prevent obesity.
Argan oil is a plant oil derived from the argan tree that is native to Morocco. The deep roots of the argan tree stabilize the ecosystem. The tree plays an important role in maintaining the ecological balance.
It is popularly known as the tree of life among the people of Morocco. Argan oil is commonly used as food ingredient and for cosmetic purposes.
Argan oil has an interesting composition.
99% of argan oil is composed of Acylglycerols (including 95% of triacylglycerols). The remaining 4% is composed of monoacylglycerols, diacylglycerols and free fatty acids.
Other components include phenols, sterols and carotenes. All the components found in argan oil are in some way or the other benefits to health.
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Benefits of Argan oil For Obesity
Various therapeutic properties of argan oil can be beneficial in managing obesity.
1. It helps reducing obesity
Argan oil has proved to be essential in reducing obesity. A research study was performed in an animal model to determine the effects of argan oil on the high fat-induced metabolic effects of obesity.
The study aimed to identify and compare the oxidant-antioxidant status and lipid profile of high fat diet and normal diet.
Argan oil reduced levels of total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triacylglycerol’s, glucose and insulin that were elevated with high fat diets.
The study concluded that argan oil reduces the metabolic effects of obesity and its used can be promoted along with the intake of a healthy and balanced diet.
Another study suggested that the intake of argan oil reduced insulin resistance in obese patients. Argan oil was found to improve some metabolic and insulin signaling abnormalities associated with high fat or high sucrose induced diets.
Anti-diabetic and associated cardiovascular effects of argan oil have been actively evaluated since the past five years with fruitful results. Studies show that Argan oil reduces the Body mass index (BMI) thus promoting weight loss.
What does this mean?
Argan oil has been proved to be effective in reducing obesity. It has the ability to lower increased levels of cholesterol in the body, prevents insulin resistance in high sugar/fat diets and reduces the Body mass index helping in weight loss.
2. It lowers cholesterol levels
A research study conducted to determine the effects of argan oil on the serum lipids and Apo lipoproteins in man claims that consumption of argan oil showed a significant increase in the levels of High density cholesterol (also known as good cholesterol) and reduces levels of Low density cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol).
The results confirmed the cholesterol lowering effect of argan oil.
Another study conducted in an animal model to describe the effects of argan oil on serum lipid composition reported a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels by 36.67% , LDL or bad cholesterol levels decreased by 67.70%, triglycerides by 30.67% and body weight reduced by 12.7%.
The results indicate beneficial effects of argan oil in the treatment of hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels) and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels).
What does this mean?
Argan oil lowers levels of bad cholesterol i.e. low density cholesterol and increases levels of good cholesterol in the body. This property of argan oil can prove beneficial in improving conditions of hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia.
3. It protects from Cardiovascular risks
Intake of argan oil has been recommended for preventing risks of cardiovascular diseases. Argan oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherol and phenolic compounds.
A study was conducted to identify the effects of argan oil on protecting humans against lipid peroxidation and promoting levels of good cholesterol.
The results suggested that argan oil provides a good source of dietary phenols that possess anti-oxidative properties which prevent cardiovascular risks by preventing oxidation of bad cholesterol and enhancing the uptake of good cholesterol by the blood.
These properties increase levels of good cholesterol i.e. high density cholesterol which has anti-atherogenic properties.
A group of enzymes called Paraoxonases show decreased activity in patients who are at a risk of cardiovascular diseases. Hence they play an important role in the diagnosis of heart diseases.
A research was carried out to determine levels of paraoxonases in the plasma and antioxidant status in healthy men on consumption of argan oil.
The results confirmed that argan oil increases levels of paraoxonases and decreases lipid peroxides, that cause peroxidation of lipids that are harmful to health. Thus, indicating ability of argan oil as a dietary supplement in preventing cardiovascular risk.
What does this mean?
Argan oil reduces cardiovascular risks in the body by preventing lipids peroxidation and promoting levels of good cholesterol. It is found to reduce atherogenesis (Atherogenesis promotes fatty deposits in the arteries) which is a major risk factor in cardiovascular diseases.
4. It possesses antioxidant property
Argan oil is of importance in preventing oxidative stress and lipid profile because of its fat composition and anti-oxidant compounds. It is involved in lowering levels of lipid peroxides.
Lipid peroxidation is the oxidative degradation of lipids that causes damaging effects on the body.
A study was conducted to determine the oxidative ability and other properties for nutritional and cosmetic purposes of argan oil sold in the Bulgarian market by comparing different samples of argan oil.
The results classified the quality of argan oil as fine and no significant differences were observed regarding their application for medical and cosmetic purposes.
The high oxidative stability of argan oil is due to the presence of sterols, saponin and phenolic compounds, tocopherols and carotenoids. Due to its high oxidative stability, it helps in preventing lipid peroxidation.
A research study explains that argan oil induces an increase in antioxidant activity of the cell because ingestion of argan oil causes a positive change in levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Argan oil contains small amounts of Vitamin E which contributes to its anti-oxidation properties. Presence of Vitamin E decreases susceptibility of cellular oxidative damage.
What does this mean?
Argan oil is known to have to anti-oxidant properties due to its high oxidative ability. This property of argan oil prevents oxidation of lipids. Increased oxidation of lipids has been observed in atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, rheumatic arthritis, cancer and other immunological disorders.
5. It has anti-inflammatory property
Argan oil contains anti-inflammatory nutrients that are mainly associated with prevention of conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Argan oil is rich in triterpenoids which are biological substances and are well known for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Triterpene constitutes 18% of argan oil.
The anti-inflammatory property of argan oil also provides amazing skin benefits and protects the skin from the sun.
Epidemiologic and secondary prevention studies suggest that the poly unsaturated fatty acids present in argan oil contribute protection against cardiovascular diseases.
Thus, Argan oil can prove to be an effective alternative to arthritis anti-inflammatory drugs.
What does this mean?
Argan oil due to its anti-inflammatory properties has found to be beneficial for the skin. It is known to provide anti-aging and skin-smoothening benefits. It has also been found to be effective in curing arthritis.
6. It benefits in diabetes
Diabesity is the term used to describe diabetes induced obesity.
Argan oil has found to be effective in diabetes. The nutrients present in argan oil are associated with the production of insulin and has been a matter of study since many years.
A study was conducted on rats to determine the effect of argan oil in preventing the development of diabetes.
The results showed significant reduction of blood glucose and increase in levels of liver glycogen concluding the possible role of argan oil in reducing weight loss in diabetes, and inhibiting the development or progression of diabetes.
It was suggested that the anti-diabetic effect of Argan oil could be due to presence of tocopherols, unsaturated fatty acids and phenolic compounds.
Another research study investigated the effect of argan oil in cellular insulin responses. Argan oil was capable of reducing resistance to insulin. The study concluded the anti-diabetic effect of argan oil. None of the extracts from argan tree show cytotoxic activity.
What does this mean?
The anti-diabetic effect of argan oil prevents development or progression of diabetes.
Argan oil can reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients. Administration of argan oil is found to reduce high blood glucose levels and increase glycogen levels in the liver, thus providing beneficial effects in diabetes.
In native morocco dishe,s argan oil is used for seasoning dishes like pasta, as a dressing for salads and adding flavor to vegetables and desserts. It is used to add depth and warmth to exquisite dishes.
Mean daily intake of argan oil was found to be 15g for hyperlipidemia. 1-2 tsp of argan oil can be consumed as part of the daily diet.
Currently, there are no reports regarding toxicity to argan oil. However, recently a case of allergic reaction to argan oil was reported.
It is thus important that before incorporating argan oil into the diet one much identify his/her susceptibility to develop an allergic reaction against the argan oil allergen.
The daily dosage must also be consulted by a doctor as it may vary from person to person.
It has been found that the allergens present in argan oil can be suppressed by a process of refining.
Argan oil has been used as food, as a food ingredient and cosmetic ingredient for centuries. It has been used as a natural remedy because of its beneficial effects on health.
It is an excellent food supplement with no known toxic effects.
It has significant quantities of all essential nutrients that make up a healthy diet. Regular consumption of argan oil can reduce the risk of developing obesity, hypertension and other related disorders.
Obesity has now become a worldwide concern. The main causes of obesity are sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits. This can be overcome but not only by including food supplements like argan oil but also bringing about changes in the lifestyle.