Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of diseases or risk factors that hinder normal metabolism of the body.
It increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, altered level of cholesterol and excess abdominal fat.
The risk of having metabolic syndrome increases due to overweight and obesity. Insulin resistance increases the risk of metabolic syndrome.
It is a condition in which body is unable to use insulin (the hormone that maintains blood sugar level).
Since last decade it has been observed that due to unhealthy lifestyle even the young generation is affected by metabolic syndrome.
A healthy and active lifestyle is recommended to prevent metabolic syndrome.
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How does argan oil benefit in metabolic syndrome?
Argan oil is a plant-derived oil, obtained from the nut of ‘Argan tree’. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols such as catechin, caffeic acid and tocopherols (vitamin E).
Argan oil has therapeutic potential. It has several health benefits like it enhances skin health, heart health, prevents cancer, aids in digestion and speeds up wound healing.
Benefits of Argan Oil in Metabolic Syndrome
It has several health benefits, most importantly, it lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome. It has multiple potentials as it prevents a group of risk factors such as high cholesterol, increased body weight, high blood pressure. It is also nutritionally highly beneficial to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1. It lowers cholesterol
Argan oil has been suggested for treating hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
Studies have shown that the total cholesterol decreased by 36.6% in the rat model.
This further lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Argan oil contains natural plant sterols like stigmasterol, spinasterol which have cholesterol reducing effects. It has a high content of oleic acid which regulates blood cholesterol.
A study was carried out in which 60 human volunteers were fed with argan oil in the amount of 25g/day for 2 weeks.
The levels of triglycerides decreased in such cases to 17.5% . On analyzing the serum lipids it was found that high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apoprotein significantly increased.
What does this mean? The polyunsaturated fatty acids and natural plant sterols present in argan oil lowers cholesterol level. Hence, daily consumption of argan oil in diet can reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
2. It reduces body weight
Studies reveal that argan tree nut consumption lowers body weight, body mass index and reduces waist circumference.
It facilitates weight loss by aiding in better digestion and maintaining blood cholesterol. A reduction in body weight lowers the risk of other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease.
What does this mean? One of the significant causes of metabolic syndrome is obesity. Argan tree extracts helps to lower body weight thereby lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome.
3. It helps to maintain heart health
Phenolic compounds present in argan oil such as phytosterols and tocopherols are efficient hypocholesterolemic agents (lowers blood cholesterol).
It increases paraoxonase activity (prevents lipid oxidation) and decreases the formation of lipoperoxide, whose increased levels are an indication of heart ailment.
It explains that argan oil has antiatherogenic potential (prevents deposition of fatty acid on arteries) and maintains a healthy heart. Studies have suggested that argan oil can be used as anti‒atherogenic oil .
A study was carried out on 20 healthy subjects to whom 15g/d argan oil was given for breakfast with toasted bread for four weeks.
At the end of the study, it was found that argan oil modulated the risk factors for cardiovascular disease .
Argan oil has been shown to prevent prothrombotic complications (a condition that causes the blood clot in the blood vessel) that arise due to dyslipidemia (increase in cholesterol and triglycerides), which raises the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What does this mean? Dietary intake of argan oil can maintain a healthy heart which prevents cardiovascular risk.
4. It is a superfood and rich in nutrients
Argan oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which are essential nutrients of the body and are precursors of leukotrienes and prostaglandins which are hormone-like messengers.
Oleic acid, a major component of argan oil lowers blood pressure.
Linolenic acid, the second most abundant fatty acid present in argan oil is the precursor for arachidonic acid which modulates inflammatory reactions. Saponins (a sugar molecule) present in argan oil have antiviral and antioxidant properties.
What does this mean? This means that adding argan oil in daily diet provides with very beneficial and essential nutrients that help in maintaining good health. This decreases the probability of metabolic syndrome.
5. It is an anti-diabetic agent
One of the pharmacological effects of argan oil is its antidiabetic activity. Argan oil has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of absorbed glucose .
This effect can be related to the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, tocopherol and phenolic compounds of argan oil.
Intake of argan oil results in restoration of insulin signaling i.e. proper regulation of blood glucose levels. As it has a role in weight loss it can inhibit the progression of diabetes.
Consumption of argan oil has been recommended in the nutritional management of type 2 diabetes mellitus .
What does this mean? The hormone that is affected in diabetes is insulin. Argan oil restores the functionality of insulin which helps in regulating blood glucose and thereby alleviating symptoms of diabetes.
6. It lowers blood pressure
Argan oil has been found effective in maintaining a healthy heart. The high tocopherol content of argan oil lowers blood pressure.
Studies have shown that administration of argan oil reduces the mean blood pressure in a rat model.
In another study, hypertensive rat model (rats with high blood pressure) were administered with 5ml/kg/d argan oil which restored normal blood pressure.
The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids of argan oil was predominant in this case.
What does this mean? Lowering of blood pressure or restoration of normal blood pressure by argan oil helps in maintaining a healthy heart thereby lowering cardiovascular risk.
1‒2 teaspoons of argan oil is recommended for dietary consumption. No specific dose has been outlined for metabolic syndrome.
Ensure that you buy argan oil from a trusted supplier and that it is free from adulteration.
Please consult a herbalist or naturopath before taking argan oil therapeutically.
As such no toxicity of argan oil has been reported. The foremost precaution is that the argan oil we are consuming should be pure.
If there is any adulteration in the oil, the health benefits will certainly be reduced. There are also chances that the adulteration may adversely affect our health.
Argan oil must not be applied on open wounds. Its application on open wounds may induce irritation or itching as it may interfere with the natural process of wound healing.
For ingestion purposes, argan oil is more effective as it is. Mild cooking of this oil can be done but deep frying should be avoided.
Deep frying can degrade many compounds hence, robbing off the oil of its beneficial components.
Argan oil can cause allergy. People who are allergic to nut oils may be allergic to this oil as well. As argan oil is not highly refined, it may consist of some allergen proteins.
Before application of argan oil, skin test for allergy must be done.
The phytosterols, tocopherols and essential polyunsaturated fatty acids present in argan oil make it a therapeutic oil.
It has several health benefits, most importantly, it lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome.
It has multiple potentials as it prevents a group of risk factors such as high cholesterol, increased body weight, high blood pressure.
It is also nutritionally highly beneficial to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It must be included in the diet and hence commonly called as dietary oil and a portion of functional food.