Is Almond Oil a Healthy Cooking Oil?
Not only is almond oil good for your skin, it is also edible and a healthy alternative to many other cooking oils. Indeed, this light-colored oil can offer a myriad of health benefits when added to foods such as salads and vegetable dips. Although foodgrade almond oil can be a bit pricey, a bottle of this wonderful nut oil is usually worth the money. The health benefits of almond oil include improved cardiovascular health, improved vitamin E levels, as well as positive beauty and health effects associated with the high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) found in foodgrade almond oil. Below, we explain in detail why almond oil is good for you and how you can reap the maximum benefits from this healthy nut oil.
Improved cardiovascular health
Improved cardiovascular health has been recognized as one of the main health benefits of whole almonds, but it appears that almond oil may also offer protection against cardiovascular disease. A groundbreaking study from the University of California Davis found that not only whole almonds but also almond oil could reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in healthy men and women. Due to the similar cholesterol-lowering effects of almond oil and whole almonds, the researchers concluded that these favorable health effects were mediated by components in the oil portion of the almond, rather than some compononents present in the non-lipid fraction of the nut. The findings of this almond study were published in the Journal of Nutrition> in 2002.
A superb source of vitamin E
Almond oil is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E. In fact, only sunflower and wheat germ oils beat almond oil when it comes to common culinary oils rich in vitamin E. By adding just one tablespoon of foodgrade almond oil to your salad, you'll be adding 5 milligrams of vitamin E to your diet, which corresponds to a staggering 26 percent of an average adult's daily need for vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can protect your body from free radicals, unstable molecules that have been linked to aging as well as many chronic illnesses.
Low in saturated fats, rich in monounsaturated fats
If the health benefits of almond oil listed above are not enough to convince you to become a fan of this wonderful health food, consider this: only 8% of the fatty acids in almond oil are saturated. For the sake of comparison, avocado oil, linoleic sunfower oil, and olive oil contain 12%, 11%, and 14% of saturated fat, respectively. As you may recall from high school, saturated fats in large amounts are thought to confer negative health effects. They have been associated with, for example, an increased risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and negative effects on bone health.
The fatty acid profile of almond oil is dominated by monounsaturated fatty acids (or MUFAs), with 66% of all the fat in almond oil being monounsaturated. MUFAs are also the dominant type of fatty acid in olive oil, and they are thought to contribute to the extraordinary health observed in many people living in the Mediterranean region. In addition to providing benefits related to your cardiovascular health, MUFAs may also help keep your blood sugar levels in check and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. What's more, getting MUFAs from foods like almond oil can help keep your skin looking young and soft by moisturizing it from the inside.
How to reap the health benefits of almond oil
If you want to start using almond oil as a healthy source of dietary fat and vitamin E, the first thing to keep in mind is that you need to buy a product that's suitable for culinary use. Look for products labeled 'foodgrade' or 'for culinary use'. If you're unsure whether the almond oil you've purchased is edible, ask the manufacturer.
Second, you should always store almond oil in a cool, dark place in order to protect its nutritional benefits for as long as possible. Oil that has not been stored appropriately, that has reached its expiration date, or that tastes rancid or otherwise bad, should not be eaten as it may pose a risk to your health.
Furthermore, you should always follow the cooking instructions printed on the bottle. While refined almond oil is usually suitable for pan-frying, some cold-pressed almond oils may only be suitable for cold applications.
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