The global market for sweet almond oil would touch US $160 million by 2025, according to a report (1). What is causing this increasing demand?
Almonds are incredibly nutritious and satisfying. Adding almonds to a dish instantly ups its taste and visual appeal. Lately, even the oil extracted from these nuts is gaining popularity. It is a common ingredient in medications and cosmetic products.
While vitamin E in almond oil offers antioxidant benefits, the unsaturated fatty acids promote heart health. There are more ways in which this oil can enhance your health. In this post, we will discover how.
Table Of Contents
Why Almond Oil? How Is It Good For You?
Almond oil is extracted from almonds – which are the edible seeds of the almond tree (called Prunus dulcis). Almond trees come in both sweet and bitter varieties.
Sweet almonds are what we usually eat and use in foods. Bitter almonds can be toxic as they contain prussic acid, a form of cyanide that may cause poisoning (2). The acid might be removed during the manufacturing process of almond oil (bitter almonds may also be used in its preparation, though not often).
Sweet almond oil is almost always used in scientific studies, given its safety. It has a nutty smell with a light sweetness.
But if you want to go for sweet almond oil, you need to choose the unrefined version. It is also called cold-pressed oil, and it usually has better nutritive properties than the refined variants. Cold-pressed oils do not undergo chemical or heat treatments (3). Unrefined almond oil is made by pressing raw almonds without using chemical agents or high temperatures. This process retains most of its nutrients. It is the best choice and has no preservatives (3).
It is believed that the refined oil has its vitamin E replaced (almost) by a chemical antioxidant. Hence, avoid this variant.
Almond oil is heavily researched. The oil elevates good cholesterol levels and protects the heart. It also works wonders on the skin by improving complexion and helping to fade scars (4).
Studies attribute the cholesterol-lowering properties of almond oil to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (5). The major fatty acids in the oil are oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid ranging from 63% to 78%) and linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid ranging from 12% to 27%) (6).
How you can use almond oil to boost your health status is interesting. The research we have included will give you a better perspective.
Note: In this post, ‘almond oil’ refers to sweet almond oil.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Almond Oil?
The unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E are the most important nutrients in the oil. The healthy fats promote heart health and aid diabetes treatment. The vitamin E in the oil enhances skin health.
1. May Promote Skin Health
Almond oil can rejuvenate the skin and improve your complexion. These properties might help reduce acne scars (4).
The oil is replete with vitamin E that works wonders on your skin. It can treat acne and reduce inflammation. It achieves this by preventing lipid peroxidation that is caused by acne-causing bacteria. However, we need a better understanding of this vitamin to evaluate its effectiveness on skin health (7).
Topical vitamin E was also found to protect the skin from photoaging and skin cancer in mice studies (8). Anecdotal evidence suggests that almond oil works for all skin types, and it helps soften and recondition the skin.
The vitamin E in almond oil may also reduce dark circles. Research is limited, but anecdotal evidence shows that it helps. Here’s how you can use it. Cleanse your face and massage a small amount of almond oil under your eyes. This massage boosts blood circulation. You can do this at night and wash your eyes in the morning. Following this regularly may also give you beautiful skin.
The oil works for sunburns too. Mice studies show that topical almond oil can prevent the structural damage caused by UV irradiation (9). Gentle application of the oil to the affected areas might help.
Almond oil also helps in reducing stretch marks, although bitter almond oil was found to be effective in this aspect. A 15-minute gentle massage with bitter almond oil during pregnancy may reduce the development of stretch marks (medically called striae gravidarum) (10). But we suggest you use almond oil only after consulting your doctor as it may lead to preterm birth.
Regular application of and massage with almond oil may also reduce wrinkles, under-eye bags, and dark circles. You can also apply almond oil for treating dark or chapped lips. But there is no scientific research to prove these benefits.
2. May Improve Hair And Scalp Health
Many people have sworn by the efficacy of almond oil in boosting hair and scalp health. But sufficient research is absent.
Using almond oil on your hair may make it softer to touch. You might even find it easy to comb and style through your hair.
Almond oil contains vitamin E. This nutrient can reduce the oxidative stress in the scalp, cut down the risk of alopecia, and boost hair growth (11). Almond oil may achieve the same, given its high vitamin E content.
The moisturizing properties of the oil may also help treat dry scalp and dandruff. Some believe that almond oil may also promote hair growth. However, more research is warranted in this aspect.
3. May Protect Your Heart
The monounsaturated fats in the oil lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and elevate HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) (12). Thus, almond oil may reduce the risk of heart disease.
A diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids can also lower blood pressure levels, more so in obese individuals (13). Almond oil contains a combination of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These two greatly contribute to cardiovascular health (14).
Studies also state that consuming mono and polyunsaturated fatty foods in place of saturated fats can have greater benefits for heart health (16). In other words, ditching saturated fats is equally important.
According to the American Heart Association, adding almond oil to the diet should be supplemented by a reduction of the intake of foods like fatty beef, lamb, pork, butter and cheese, and all baked and fried items. This is because all of these foods contain saturated fat (17).
4. May Promote Weight Loss
A diet rich in monounsaturated fats may induce weight loss (18). It may also improve lipid profiles in obese individuals. These fats promote energy balance, which may help one maintain a healthy weight (19).
However, almond oil doesn’t contain fiber as almonds do. Hence, you can supplement the oil with a balanced diet and exercise for healthy weight loss instead of relying on it alone. Having better lifestyle habits will help you lose weight.
5. May Promote Rectal And Digestive Health
Almond oil has quite a number of uses in boosting digestive health.
One of them is almond oil injections that treat rectal prolapse in children (20). Rectal prolapse is a rare condition in which a part of the large intestine slips outside the anus.
In a study, almond oil could treat idiopathic pruritis (unexplained irritation in the anal region) in adult patients. The oil could treat 93% of the patients in the first trial itself, while the remaining saw complete cure after a second treatment (21).
The fatty acids in almond seeds may also work as prebiotics. This promotes the health of the human gut bacteria (22). However, it is unclear if similar results could be expected with almond oil.
6. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
In a study, participants who had breakfast with added almond oil had lower blood sugar levels. This was both after the meal and throughout the day (23).
Almond oil works better than whole almonds in keeping postprandial blood glucose levels low (24).
7. May Treat Ear Infections
Almond oil can help remove earwax. Pouring warm almond oil in the ear can soften the earwax, making it easy to remove (25).
The oil may also work in the case of tympanic perforation (the case of a ruptured eardrum). Although more studies are required, research states that almond oil does not cause any toxicity in this regard (26).
A ruptured eardrum may also make your ear more susceptible to infections. Hence, almond oil might be a potential treatment for ear infections as well.
8. May Be Useful In Aromatherapy
Some research shows that using almond oil as part of aromatherapy massage could relieve symptoms of PMS (27). This treatment may complement conventional treatment for premenstrual syndrome.
Often, almond oil is used as a carrier oil. It is mixed with other essential oils to dilute them. This is to make them safer for the skin. The reason is that almond oil is readily absorbed by the skin, doesn’t evaporate easily, and has a mild smell.
9. May Treat Cradle Cap In Infants
There is very little research to back this. Anecdotal evidence supports the use of almond oil for treating cradle cap in infants. Cradle cap is a skin condition involving brownish-yellow scaly patches on the scalp. It is caused by excess secretion of sebum. Hydrating the scalp is key.
Some people believe that almond oil also nourishes the scalp. You can achieve this for your baby by applying a thick layer of the oil to the scalp. Gently massage it in for a minute. Use extra caution. Leave the oil to soak in for about 15 minutes. After this, you can wash the oil out with mild baby shampoo.
There is no research to support this method. But as long as your child doesn’t experience any adverse reactions, you can use the oil.
Almond oil is a worthwhile addition to your kitchen shelf. The nutrients we have seen are what constitute the oil’s nutrition profile.
But how much of those nutrients would you be getting through regular use of almond oil?
We have discussed below how much nutritional power a teaspoon of almond oil has. This can help you gauge how much you need to use based on your requirements.
A tablespoon of almond oil (14 grams)* contains:
- 119 calories, meeting 6% of the daily value
- 5.3 milligrams of vitamin E, meeting 26% of the DV
- 13.5 grams of total fat, meeting 21% of the DV (1.1 grams of saturated fat, 9.4 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 2.3 grams of polyunsaturated fat)
*Values sourced from USDA, oil, almond
In the following section, we will look at the ways you can add almond oil to your diet.
How To Include Almond Oil In Your Diet
Always go for unrefined almond oil. When you do, ensure you do not use it in cooking. Unrefined oils have low smoke points, and cooking them at high temperatures can destroy the nutrients and release toxic fumes (28).
Use unrefined almond oil more as a finishing oil. Add it to dishes once the cooking is completed. As unrefined oils have low smoke points, they are best used in dips and salad dressings.
- You can combine almond oil with apple cider vinegar and use it as a salad dressing.
- You can also drizzle some almond oil over your pasta for a dash of healthy fats.
- You can even add the oil to your other dishes to impart a delicious nutty flavor.
You may use refined almond oil for cooking. Refined almond oil has a high smoke point (28). You can use it for searing, pan-frying, or browning.
But beware. We recommend against using refined oils for cooking. This holds true for refined almond oil as it contains high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (29). Studies show that refined vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids can cause atherosclerosis and diabetes (30).
There is limited evidence on the dosage of almond oil, especially when using it for medical reasons. Though some sources suggest 1 to 2 teaspoons of almond oil per dose, the data is unreliable. Hence, consult your doctor.
You can get a bottle of almond oil from your nearest grocery store or supermarket. You can also purchase it online.
You can also prepare almond oil in the cozy comfort of your home.
How To Make Almond Oil At Home
All you need are a blender, two cups of unroasted almonds, and one to two teaspoons of olive oil. Here’s the process:
- Blend the almonds. Start slow and increase the pace eventually.
- Once the almonds are blended into a rich and creamy paste, add a teaspoon of olive oil. Blend again.
- You can add another teaspoon of olive oil to speed up the process.
- Store the blended almonds in a container at room temperature for two weeks. This is time enough for the oil to separate from the meat.
- Drain the oil from the container into another container. You can use a sieve or strain or tip the container.
You can use this almond oil and reap all the benefits discussed above. But before you do that, here are a few things to keep in mind.
What Are The Side Effects Of The Oil?
- May Cause Preterm Birth In Pregnant Women
Studies show that the use of almond oil may cause preterm birth in pregnant women (31). Hence, please consult your doctor before using the oil.
- May Lower Blood Glucose Levels Way Too Much
As almond oil can lower blood glucose levels, exercise caution if you are already taking medications to treat high blood glucose levels. There is no direct research to substantiate this, though.
- May Trigger Allergies
Almond oil may trigger reactions in people with nut allergies. If you have nut allergies, please avoid its use.
- Drug Interactions
Almond oil may interfere with how certain drugs are absorbed by the skin. These include progesterone and ketoprofen (32), (33). Hence, if you are on these medications, avoid almond oil.
Almond oil is as healthy (almost) as almonds. Its biggest strengths are unsaturated fats and vitamin E. Using this oil to garnish your dishes is the best way to enjoy its benefits. But remember to go for the unrefined variant. Also, try not to use it a lot in cooking.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Where else is almond oil used?
Almond oil is also used in cosmetics, medicines, and furniture polish.
Does almond oil have a substitute?
You can substitute almond oil with other nut oils like that of walnuts or hazelnuts.
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- The effect of bitter almond oil and massaging on striae gravidarum in primiparaous women, Journal of Clinical Nursing, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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- Outer ear infection: What helps if earwax builds up? National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health.
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