Almond oil has been known for its health and beauty benefits for centuries. It is used for a variety of purposes including lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and skin care.
A rich source of vitamin E, protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, potassium and zinc, almond oil has been used in different schools of traditional medicine like Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Greco Persian.
Read on to learn more about almond oil and its numerous health benefits.
What is almond oil?
Almond oil is extracted from the edible seeds of the almond (Prunus dulcis) tree.
Though commonly referred to as a tree nut, almonds are actually drupes, which is a fruit with an outer hull which encases a shell with a seed inside.
Almond oil comes in two variants: sweet and bitter. Bitter almond oil is taken from the bitter variety of almonds and can have fatal consequences if ingested.
Sweet almond oil comes from edible almonds and is popularly used for skin and hair care.
Almond oil is also available in refined and unrefined forms. Refined almond oil is extracted using chemicals and a high-heat process. Many nutrients found in raw almond oil get destroyed during this process.
Unrefined almond oil is made without the use of heat or chemicals. This process lets it retain most of its nutrients.
Almond oil nutrition facts
Most of the health benefits of almond oil come from its dense amounts of unsaturated fats. Almond oil is high in vitamin E and contains a small number of vitamin K as well.
One tablespoon (14 grams) of almond oil contains (1):
- 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 RDI
- Polysterols: 35.9 mg
Almond oil benefits
Improves heart health
Almond oil helps reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Clinical studies have shown that regular consumption of almond oil raises HDL cholesterol, lower LDL and lowers overall cholesterol (2).
During one study, 22 men and women replaced half their fat intake with almond oil for six weeks. Their total cholesterol levels decreased, LDL decreased, while HDL increased (3).
Not only does almond oil help in reducing cholesterol levels, but it also helps in lowering inflammation, which is also responsible for many heart ailments.
Decreases the risk of diabetes
During one study, participants who consumed almond oil along with their breakfast had decreased blood sugar levels. It also increased satiety both acutely and after a second meal (5).
According to another trial, when researchers added almonds to meals that contain food with a high-glycemic index, it helps reduce the glycemic index of the overall meal.
The researchers concluded that in addition to lowering serum cholesterol levels, almonds could also reduce the glycemic impact of carbohydrates foods with which they are eaten (6).
Helps in weight loss
Many people avoid almond oil when they are trying to lose weight thinking they are high in fats. On the contrary, consuming healthy fats can help you lose weight.
Almond oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are known to decrease body fat and promote weight loss. In fact, in one study, when obese women consumed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, they lost weight and improved their body composition (7).
During another study, when the participants added almonds to their diet for three months, they showed more significant weight loss as compared to participants who consumed the same diet without almonds (8).
Help keep colon healthy
Almond oil can help relieve the problems in the colon and digestive areas. In fact, research suggests that we should use it as a treatment of rectal prolapse in children (9).
During one study, patients with idiopathic pruritus ani (unexplained itching in the anal region) were given an injection with 5% phenol in almond oil. More than 90 percent of these patients were cured, and the others were cured after the second treatment (10).
Experts also recommend almond oil as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. We can also use it can as a mild laxative.
Researchers have also found a correlation between almond oil and colon cancer. The colon can sometimes develop lesions (aberrant crypt foci) which are strongly linked to the risk of cancer.
According to one study, when researchers gave rats a diet rich in almond products, it decreased the number of ACF lesions (11). This study suggests that almond oil can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
According to another study, the high levels of fatty acids like oleic acid in the almond oil could be the reason it inhibits the growth of colon cancer tumor cells (12).
Protects the skin from UV rays
Almond oil is highly effective in protecting the skin from UV rays when applied topically. This mild oil is safe for sensitive skin and has antioxidative properties which help protect the skin from aging and cancer.
According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, almond oil is effective in preventing structural damage caused by the UV irradiation and in decelerating the photoaging process (13).
The rich content of vitamin E in almond oil makes it an excellent choice for people with dry and damaged skin. It is also known to treat skin conditions like inflammation, itchiness, redness of psoriasis or eczema (14).
Moisturises skin and hair
Almond oil is a favorite ingredient for many skin and hair care products thanks to its emollient properties (15). In other words, almond oil helps prevent the loss of water from the skin.
This quality of almond oil helps keep the hair and skin soft and moisturized, which is especially helpful for people who have dry and damaged skin.
Besides vitamin E, almond oil also contains vitamin B and zinc, which are both helpful in maintaining healthy skin.
Applying almond oil to your scalp every night and adding a few drops of this oil in your salad or smoothie can also help in keeping your hair healthy.
Sweet almond oil can help in treating earaches. It can be used to soften ear wax and clear any blockage in the ear. Studies have shown that almond oil is quite safe to use to relieve the obstruction in the ear, even if there are microscopic cuts inside (16).
To treat an earache, take some sweet almond oil in a tablespoon and hold the spoon over a bowl of hot water. When the oil becomes warm, take a dropper and put three or four drops in the affected ear, allowing it to go down the ear canal.
Reduces toxic effects of pesticide
In many parts of the world aluminum phosphide (ALP) is used as a pesticide to protect stored rice. This substance is highly toxic and is a common cause of poisoning and also suicide.
According to the scientists from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences sweet almond oil is a useful antidote to ALP (17). This property of almond oil will help save many lives.
How to use almond oil?
Almond oil can use used both as food and as a skin and hair care product. Almond oil has a mild and nutty flavor, and you can add it to many dishes.
Cooking with it can destroy its nutritional values, so it should be added to food when the cooking process is complete.
- You can mix it with apple cider vinegar and herbs and use it as a dressing for salads.
- You can also add it to pasta to give it that extra flavor.
- You can also ingest it directly, preferably from a warm tablespoon, as it absorbs more quickly if its temperature is closer to your body temperature.
Almond oil can also be used for cosmetic purposes.
- You can apply it directly on the skin, but it is generally not recommended as it can cause unwanted oiliness.
- Applying almond oil directly on the scalp helps prevent hair loss.
- Almond oil is also used to dilute essential oils, which makes them safer for skin application.
Almond oil side effects
Sweet almond oil is generally considered safe for consumption and for applying on skin and hair. However, people with nut allergies should avoid consuming it or using it topically.
A study from the Texas Tech University suggests an adverse hepatic metabolic interaction between almond oil and alcohol (18). People with pancreatitis should avoid almond oil.
Bitter almond oil can be toxic, and you should not use it without the supervision of a doctor. If you are taking any medication to lower cholesterol or to control diabetes, you must check with your physician before you take almond oil as it has the potential to interact with these medications.
Almond oil is a versatile product that can be used in meals and as a cosmetic. It helps improve cholesterol levels, lowers the risk of diabetes, promotes colon health and keeps skin and hair healthy.
However, people with nut allergies should not use this oil.