Almonds are a satisfying food with many potential health benefits.
The oil from these delicious tree nuts is commonly used as a natural ingredient in skin and hair care, but few people realize it may also be good for your health.
This article uncovers how almond oil may benefit your health and can be used as a multipurpose, non-toxic beauty treatment.
What is almond oil?
Almonds are the edible seeds of the Prunus dulcis tree, more commonly known as the almond tree.
Although almonds are commonly called nuts, they’re the seeds found at the center of the almond fruit, which 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 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 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 unrefined, making it a more cost-effective option for consumers.
Unrefined almond oil is made by pressing raw almonds without 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.
Summary: Almond oil is extracted from the seed of the almond fruit. The methods used to produce refined almond oil destroy certain nutrients. Thus, unrefined almond oil is a better choice for culinary purposes.
Almond oil nutrition facts
Although almond oil is not as rich in nutrients as whole almonds, it has nutritional benefits.
Below is the nutritional breakdown of 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of almond oil:
- Calories: 119
- Total fat: 13.5 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.1 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 9.4 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2.3 grams
- Vitamin E: 26% of the recommended daily intake
- Phytosterols: 35.9 mg
Almond oil is an excellent source of vitamin E and contains a small amount of vitamin K.
Most of the health benefits of almond oil stem from its high amount of healthy fats.
Fatty acid breakdown
Here are the proportions of fatty acids found in almond oil:
- Monounsaturated fat: 70%
- Polyunsaturated fat: 20%
- Saturated fat: 10%
A diet rich in unsaturated fats has been linked to many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and obesity.
Moreover, monounsaturated fats may help lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
Diets high in monounsaturated fats have also been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers like endometrial cancer, and they may even help you lose weight.
In fact, a recent review of 24 studies including 1,460 people found that a diet high in monounsaturated fats was more effective than a high-carb diet for weight loss.
Summary: Almond oil is a good source of antioxidant vitamin E and unsaturated fats. Diets rich in unsaturated fat may provide some health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and obesity and aid weight loss.
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 also be good for your health.
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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.
Almond oil 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 “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
HDL is a 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 HDL cholesterol levels have been shown to help protect against heart disease.
Almonds and almond oil have also been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
High LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels 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 LDL and total cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol by 6%.
Almond oil is high in antioxidants
Almond oil is a great source of the potent antioxidant vitamin E.
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 several 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.
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Almond oil 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, 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, than those who did not.
Moreover, the participants who consumed almond oil felt fuller after their meal, leading them to consume less throughout the day.
Almond oil may aid weight loss
A diet rich in healthy fats may help you lose weight.
Many people avoid fats when trying to drop pounds, but consuming the right 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 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 than a low-fat diet.
Summary: Almond oil is rich in vitamin E and unsaturated fats. Adding almond oil to your diet may promote heart health, aid weight loss, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Almond oil beauty benefits
Almond oil is a popular ingredient in natural beauty products. This mild and soothing oil is beneficial for both the skin and hair.
This is partly thanks to its emollient properties, meaning it helps prevent water loss from the skin.
This quality makes almond oil an excellent choice to keep the skin, hair and scalp soft and hydrated.
The moisturizing effects of almond oil may be especially helpful for people who have dry or sensitive skin.
Almond oil is packed with vitamin E, which may help protect the skin from sun damage and premature aging.
Animal studies have shown that vitamin E may help protect cells from sun damage when applied to the skin. It does this by reducing DNA damage and chemical and structural changes in the skin that the sun’s rays have caused.
This also makes using unrefined almond oil important in skin care, as unrefined oil is higher in vitamin E.
Moreover, this soothing oil may even help prevent the spread of stretch marks.
One study in 160 women found that the topical application of sweet almond oil reduced the spread of stretch marks in the abdominal area and redness and itching.
This versatile oil makes a great choice for people looking for natural beauty products with limited ingredients and can be used in many ways.
It can be a gentle makeup remover, a natural skin or hair moisturizer or a velvety massage oil.
Summary: Almond oil may help protect the skin from sun damage and prevent stretch marks. It can be used in many ways, including as a moisturizer, massage oil or makeup remover.
How to use almond oil
Almond oil is a multipurpose product that can be used as a food and natural skin and hair care product.
In the kitchen
Almond oil is a mild, nutty-tasting oil that makes a great addition to many dishes.
Unrefined almond oil should not be used in cooking, as high temperatures can destroy its nutritional value.
Rather, this almond oil should be treated more as a finishing oil and added to foods after cooking.
However, refined almond oil has a higher smoke point of 420°F (215°C) and can be used for cooking methods like roasting and sautéing.
It’s less expensive and more heat-tolerant than the unrefined kind, as the refinement process destroys much of the nutrients in unrefined almond oil.
Here are several ways to use unrefined almond oil:
- As a tasty salad dressing: Combine unrefined almond oil with apple cider vinegar and chopped herbs.
- To add a nutty flavor to meals: Drizzle almond oil over your favorite side dish to give it an extra kick.
- Over pasta: Add almond oil to your pasta to boost healthy fats.
How to use almond oil as part of your beauty routine
If you want to swap out some of your skin and hair products for more natural, non-toxic options, almond oil is a great way to go.
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Almond oil is less expensive than most commercially made moisturizers and contains no harmful ingredients.
Furthermore, it’s a multipurpose beauty product that can be used on skin and hair.
Below are some ways to add almond oil to your skin or hair care routine.
- As a moisturizer: Almond oil is perfect for sensitive skin.
- Apply it to extra-dry spots: Rub almond oil on the elbows, feet and any other areas that tend to get dry.
- To make a homemade hair mask: Make a hydrating hair mask by mixing almond oil with mashed avocado and smoothing it on damp hair.
- Combine it with essential oils: Use almond oil as a carrier to dilute essential oils when applying them to the skin.
Summary: When using unrefined almond oil in the kitchen, don’t heat it. Instead, use it as a finishing oil. You can also use almond oil as a beauty product. It makes an excellent moisturizer for both the skin and hair.
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. Ensure you don’t heat it, as doing so will destroy some of its nutrients.
No matter how you choose this interesting oil, it makes an excellent addition to your pantry and vanity.