Plants

Argan: everything you need to know

 

In a small geographical area of ​​Morocco between Marrakech and Essaouira, a unique tree called argan has been growing for tens of thousands of years. The locals know it mainly for its medicinal properties .

The argan tree is a species that belongs to the Argania Spinosa family and grows mainly in the Souss plain of the African country, where 21 million trees can be found covering almost 800 thousand hectares.

This tree is very rare and is in danger of extinction , the argan forest was declared an International Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1998. In some parts of Morocco, goats can be found perched on the branches of the trees, nibbling its fruits and leaves.

This species needs more than 50 years to develop fruits that are ready to be harvested. The fruits of this tree are also called argan, they have a delicious taste and smell. Inside it contains a nut the size of an acorn

Characteristics of the argan tree

The trees of this variety are short, thorny and gnarled, and although they can live 250 years , they never reach impressive heights due to their slow growth pattern, they can reach between 8 and 10 meters.

This tree plant has a broad, spreading canopy of small, oval, leathery leaves. Its trunk is twisted and its branches have thorns. its flowers are small and greenish yellow.

Argan trees are well adapted to semi-desert environments ; they have long root systems that reach deep into the soil in search of water, and their small leaves help reduce water loss.

The fruit looks like a wrinkled golden apple and some people say it has a similar aroma. The fruit is firm, has a thick skin, and contains a bitter fleshy pulp around an almond-shaped nut that resembles a dried olive.

To get to the valuable kernel inside, you have to remove the pulp from the fruit and crack open the hard nut with a stone. Due to the tree’s sharp thorns, removing the fruit is exceptionally difficult and farmers will usually wait for them to fall off.

Medicinal properties

Argan nuts are rich in oil . After extraction, these beans are roasted, ground, crushed or cold pressed to produce argan oil, one of the most sought after culinary and cosmetic liquids in the world.

Since ancient times, this oil has been used as a folk medicine for heart disease, rheumatism, and skin conditions, as well as a food oil (although only in its raw form, as it does not withstand heat).

Scientific studies revealed that the oil is rich in unsaturated fats , vitamin E, and has strong antioxidant effects that help in healing skin tissue, lower bad cholesterol, and increase good cholesterol.

Argan oil triglycerides are 80% unsaturated fatty acids. Recently, stimulating properties of oleic acid have been suggested to process breast cancer. This oil is acclaimed as one of the best natural ingredients for aesthetics and medicine.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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