Almond oil is obtained from the almonds (family: Rosaceae) by distillation process (solvent extraction) or pressing the almonds without their peels. Almond oil benefits are due to a powerful natural bioactive compound that exhibits various pharmacological properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, antigenotoxic, and anticarcinogenic effects (4).
Almond species are related to peach, plum, and cherry and distributed throughout the world. It is produced mainly in the Mediterranean region and the United States, which are the major producer and exporters of almonds, followed by Spain, Australia, Iran, Morocco, Italy, and the Syrian Arab Republic (1).
Common name Prunus dulcis, Prunus amygdalus, and Prunus communis
Almond Oil in Cooking
Almond oil group is composed of two major varieties bitter almond (Prunus amygdalus “amara”) used medicinally in folk medicine in Asia and Europe and the sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus “dulcis”) edible nuts, commonly consumed and used mainly for culinary purposes, and making of oils and flavorings, respectively. The bitter taste of the bitter almonds is attributed to amygdalin, however; oil is extracted mainly from sweet almonds, which contain around 50% oil (2).
Constituents of Almond oil
Almonds contain approximately 49% oils, of which 64–82% is oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), 8–28% is linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega 6 essential fatty acid) and 6–8% is palmitic acid (a saturated fatty acid). A trace of arachidic acid has also been found. It also contains β-sitosterol, α-tocopherol, squalene, manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin E. riboflavin, and protein (3).
Health benefits of Almond oil
Almond oil benefits are as follows.
1. Lower cholesterol levels
Almond oil contains monounsaturated fat (MUFA) which increases energy and decreases both saturated fat and cholesterol content. Thus almond oil is very beneficial to reduce plasma triglyceride, total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, whereas increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol also referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ (5).
2. Treat colon cancer
Almond oil is a rich source of oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid which act as novel therapeutic agents, exhibited significant antiproliferative and anticancer activity (6).
3. Almond oil is a key component of moisturizers
Folic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and zinc in almond oil are useful in skin disorders. Furthermore, this oil is very useful as an herbal moisturizer for restoring skin hydration and viscoelasticity properties (7).
4. Improve skin tone
Almond oil contains bioactive compounds such as n beta-zoosterol, squalene, and alpha-tocopherol which improve complexion and skin tone. It also maintains the elasticity of the skin and its youthful appearance (8).
5. Protect skin from UV radiation
Treatments with almond oil help to reduce some of the histologic damage associated with photoaging of the skin. Thus the photoprotective effect of almond oil on the skin after UV exposure further reduces the risk of UVB-induced skin tumors.
Furthermore, almond oil contains manganese, which helps in suppressing premature aging, irritation, and blemishes. Manganese also triggers energy production and activates certain skin enzymes (9).
6. Healthy ear
Almond oil helps in softening the ear wax or relieve ventilation tube blockage without any adverse effect.
Thus this oil can be used alone or as part of commercial preparations (Otocerol/ Earex) to lubricate and soften cerumen before irrigation and improve hearing in humans (10).
7. Treat Rectal prolapsed
Rectal prolapse is one type of health problem which creates an inability to control bowel movements in which the rectum protrudes from the anus for many reasons like pregnancy, straining during constipation.
Almond oil phenol injection is simple and very beneficial for the treatment of rectal prolapsed. As it did not damage the intramural network of the nerve plexus of the rectum, found normal anorectal reflex and relief from constipation (11).
8. Healthy liver
Pequi almond oil contains a various therapeutic compound which attenuates acute hepatic damage hepatic inflammation due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, this oil also improves the antioxidant defense system, by increasing the activities of hepatic antioxidant enzymes at the protein level (12).
9. Treat striae gravidarum during pregnancy
Striae gravidarum is pink-purple lines, is a change in connective tissue during the sixth and seventh months of the pregnancy, mostly found in 90% of pregnant women, but they never disappear completely. It was found that a 15-minute massage with almond oil on the surface of the abdomen from the 19th gestational week reduces the development of striae gravidarum (13). Moreover, Aloe vera and sweet almond oil cream also effective to decrease itching and erythema and reduce the striae and prevent their progression (14).
10. Treat Hand dermatitis
Hand dermatitis causing factors are childhood eczema, frequent hand washing, and occupational exposure to chemicals.
Almond oil is useful as a moisturizer as it contains high levels of fatty acids and hence used for centuries to treat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis (15).
11. Wound healing properties of Almond oil
12. Treat acne
Almond oil shows a wonderful effect as a moisturizer and revitalizer. As it contains glycerides of oleic and linoleic acid, phytosterols, α-tocopherol, and vitamin K. It helps in normalizing the cell lipid layer. Thus improves the water retention capability. α-Tocopherol improves water-binding ability and makes skin smooth. In addition to these, it does not clog pores or leave the skin oily (18).
13. Treat depression
A research study suggested that inhalation of almond oil alone or in combination with lavender oil reduces depression. As it contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-depressant-like effects. Therefore, treatment with almond oil, alleviating depression (19).
Side effect of Almond oil
Risk of contact dermatitis
Almond oil has almond allergens. A study suggested that children having atopic dermatitis should not use almond oil. As it results in the development of contact dermatitis like focal lesions of persistent eczema due to percutaneous sensitization to food proteins (20).
Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati