Can we see health benefits or culinary Argan Oil?


Dr. Aleksandar Grbovic, MD, Radiology resident

While the cosmetic effects of Argan Oil are quite obvious and pleasant to the eyes of beholders, culinary oil health effects may not be easily visible since they are hidden far beyond the reach of the eyesight. Luckily, radiology offers a solution to a certain extent- expensive machinery in the hands of radiologists can take a peek under the skin, deep into internal organs, bones and blood vessels.

Before we dive into the story of Argan culinary oil health benefits, one more thing needs to be said. The oil predominantly (approximately 80%) consists of a mixture of Oleic and Linoleic fatty acids. In the world of medicine, oils like this are known as MUFA/ PUFA fats. This remark was necessary so you could follow the research studies results mentioned below.

Argan Oil is rich in fats that can help you lose some weight

A group of researchers from Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism published a research study1 with rather interesting results. They wanted to know what happens with insulin sensitivity, cholesterol blood level, and abdominal fat distribution after replacing saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats (MUFA/ PUFA fats). After five weeks, redistribution of subcutaneous abdominal fat was clearly visible on MRI. Other than subcutaneous fat rearrangement, significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in bad cholesterol level in blood, subcutaneous fat reduced. This is a good chance to point out that abdominal circumference greater than 104cm in men and 100cm in women is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

„Patients on diet rich in MUFA/ PUFA fats have healthier knees“- radiologists say

Multiple studies investigated the role of nutrition in knee osteoarthritis progression. In 2017 a group of researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts investigated the effects of a diet rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA) and mono/ polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFA/ PUFA) of progression of osteoarthritis2. They measured the joint space width in 2.092 participants once a year over the course of four years (using a knee X-ray). They concluded that participants on diet rich in MUFA/ PUFA had a significantly slower progression of osteoarthritis (slower reduction of joint space width). “I don’t have problems with my knees, why should I care about this study?” you may ask. Well, you shouldn’t- for now! Osteoarthritis is a common and quite painful health problem in elderly, and timely prevention can save you a lot of hassle later in life.

Can we trace down and see health effects of a Argan oil with the help of radiology?

Unfortunately, not yet. For now, we can only see the consequences of bad diet or certain diseases- diabetes for example (atherosclerotic plaques, visceral fat, excessive subcutaneous fat, etc). In some cases, we can trace a regression of those complications under the influence of certain nutrients (body fat recomposition visible on MRI).

For now, cholesterol and triglycerides levels are the only (indirect) indicators of fat metabolism. Although the quality of blood lipid profile offers valuable info about the metabolism of fat, it has some limitations.

In general, clean eating is a long-term investment. The results of such investment? The absence of disease. So the answer to the question whether or not radiologists can see and compare health benefits of Argan oil and other vegetable oils… To a very limited extent they can, but can’t see short-term effects. On the other hand, as long as a radiologist can’t see anything strange, that means everything is ok with you.


[1] L. K. M. SummersB. A. FieldingH. A. BradshawV. IlicC. BeysenM. L. ClarkN. R. MooreK. N. Frayn, 2002, Substituting dietary saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat changes abdominal fat distribution and improves insulin sensitivity, March 2002, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 369–377

[2] Lu, B., Driban, J. B., Xu, C., Lapane, K. L., McAlindon, T. E., & Eaton, C. B. (2017). Dietary Fat Intake and Radiographic Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care & Research, 69(3), 368–375.

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