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Keywords:

  • Argania spinosa;
  • Cardiovascular protection;
  • Dietary oil;
  • Fatty acid;
  • Morocco

Abstract

Edible argan oil is traditionally prepared by Berber women who manually crunch the roasted kernels of Argania spinosa fruits. Unroasted kernels furnish a cosmetic-grade oil. Argan groves are currently shrinking due to unfavorable conditions. To stop this trend, a program aimed at increasing the argan tree economical value is in progress in Morocco. Its concept is that the natives will preserve argan trees only if the major part of the wealth resulting from the argan grove production directly benefits them. Because of its high dietary value, argan oil has appeared as the best derivative to rapidly satisfy such assumption. Consequently, year after year, cooperatives have been implanted to produce argan oil of high quality on a large scale. The delicate hazelnut taste of argan oil, combined with its high level in unsaturated fatty acids, has allowed its swift commercial success and, nowadays, argan oil of standardized quality is marketed worldwide. Moroccan farmers are now beginning to plant argan trees, confirming the full success of this ambitious program. This review summarizes the methods used to prepare argan oil, its composition, the strategies available to certify argan oil quality, and finally the impact of argan oil on human health.