Apple Seed Oil

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Apple seed oil was born out of the need for optimizing the usage of the cake left after a frothy juice is extracted from apples. Apple seeds are not eaten and they are thrown away because they contain a harmful compound called amygdalin, which is metabolised in our body as hydrogen cyanide. However, there have been no reported cases of poisoning by eating apple seeds because the amount of amygdalin is quite low. Nevertheless, the oil expelled from seeds is considered to be healthy for the skin. It is rich in the essential fatty acid “linoleic acid” which is incredibly useful in a number of skin problems. Apple seed oil is also significantly rich in vitamin E which provides powerful antioxidant power to our skin cells to fight off ageing caused by the sun. This keeps our skin uniform, smooth and taut.  



Source

Apple seeds are obtained from any of the commonly consumed varieties of apples, like the Granny Smith, Red Delicious, the richly reddish Arkansas Black or the commonly available Honeycrisp. Over hundreds of years, we have selectively bred apples to obtain different varieties that differ noticeably in taste, aroma, juice content and are thus used for specific purposes. However, seeds of all of them are rich in oil although the chemical composition of each variety may differ quite a bit.  

Apple Seed Oil
Apple Seed Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

Its production is not that simple. First of all, apples in large quantities are juiced out. The remaining cake (called as raw apple pomace) is then dried and used to make oil. Now, there can be two ways to extract oil. The first method is the RBD method (refined, bleached, deodorized) in which the pomace is heated all the while it is being pressed by a hydraulic press. Then it is refined, bleached to reduce color and deodorized to mask natural scents. Additional perfumes or nature identical substances may be added to give it an apple like aroma. RBD oils are not bad. They just do not contain all the phytonutrients but they are light in consistency and easy to apply for skin and hair care purposes.  

If the raw apple pomace is extracted by a mechanical press (or a traditional expeller using granite stones and a motor) without any heating, we obtain the virgin cold pressed apple seed oil. It possesses more of the phyto-nutrients (nutrients other than common vitamins) but is thicker in consistency.  



Apple seed oil making can be done at home as a small-scale industry. Households located close to apple orchard regions can take advantage of their favorable location and establish apple juice and seed oil production business at home itself.  

Color and Aroma

Cold pressed apple seed oil does possess a faint apple orchard aroma. It is sometimes used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy just for the soothing effect it brings to the mind of the person who smells it. People are taken back to their days of childhood when they must have played in apple orchards. Its color is a dull yellow with a hint of green.  

Properties

There has been little research interest in apple seed oil. As a consequence, we know only a few of its therapeutic properties 

  • Antioxidant – Apple seed oil protects skin cells from oxidative damage (caused by free radicals) because it contains a good amount of vitamin E and some fat-soluble phytonutrients like phospholipids and phytosterols. [2] 
  • Nutrient – Linoleic acid (LA) can make up about 50% of the apple seed oil of some varieties. LA is an essential nutrient that our body needs to make skin work properly, without which we suffer from a deficiency disease called EFAD in which skin becomes inflamed (dermatitis) and also there can be scaling and troublesome dryness.  
  • Detangler – Vitamin e rich oils aid in detangling hair knots. [1] 
  • Sunscreen – Vitamin E prevents the skin from UV induced damage which causes photo-ageing (ageing accelerated by the sun). [1] 
  • Anti-cancer (Cytotoxic) – Apple seed oil has proven cancer preventive action in medical research. [2] 
  • Antibacterial and Antifungal – It is effective at killing a number of bacteria and fungi except mildew. [2] 
  • Cleansing and Surfactant – Linoleic rich oils are effective at dissolving out dirt that sticks to our natural oil and thus cleansing the skin.  
  • Anti-pruritic – It calms itching (pruritis) caused by a dry skin.  
  • Skin Whitening – This whitening effect is only observed for hyperpigmented skin.  

Health Benefits and Uses

Apple Seed oil for Skin 

It can be used similar to any linoleic acid rich oil (like sunflower and safflower) for skin conditioning. It is useful to soften nails. Its cleansing action is excellent for using before exfoliation to take out the oily dirt from our skin. This makes it a make-up remover as well. Regular application of cold pressed apple seed oil delivers nutrition to skin cells and acts as a restoring and rejuvenating agent.  

Linoleic acid plays an important role in the generation and maintenance of something called as the lipid barrier of our skin. It is an oily layer that our skin creates on the outside to prevent water from our skin cells from evaporating. This is the primary mechanism that keeps our skin cells hydrated. If we have low linoleic acid in our diet, this protective mechanism can get disrupted and we would have to suffer from chronic dry, lifeless skin. Thus, LA rich oils are essential for obtaining quality nutrition even when they are applied topically (Apple seed oil is not to be taken internally).  

It is also helpful for people who spend quite a lot of their time in the sun. Vitamin E is a primary antioxidant which prevents our skin cells from premature ageing caused by the sun, which is in the form of early appearance of wrinkles, sagging of skin (due to reduction in collagen and elastin proteins that make up our dermis layer of skin), emergence of fine lines on the forehead and sides of the eyes, pigmentation and dryness. After the age of 30, our bodies start to produce less sebum, our body’s natural oil. This too leaves the skin dry and vulnerable to external agents like pollutants. When apple seed oil is applied directly onto the skin, we get a significant amount of vitamin E topically into our skin cells. This acts as a sunscreen against UV-rays induced skin damage. Eating a diet very rich in vitamin C (fruits like Indian gooseberry or Acai berry) helps our body to utilize vitamin E effectively. We often see multiple examples where a nutritious diet exerts synergy with a natural skin care regimen.  

The presence of oleic acid and palmitic acid as the next chief components of apple seed oil make it an effective emollient. An emollient is a substance that provides moisturization to our skin cells by preventing moisture from escaping out. So, apple seed oil can be applied on any area of the skin that is prone to roughness and dryness, like the ankles, knees, elbows, heels etc. 



Word of caution – comedogenicity of apple seed oil is not known. So, it is advised to avoid using it for active acne pimples.  

Apple seed oil for Hair 

The applicability of apple seed oil as a scalp conditioner is not yet known. So, presently it is best to avoid using it for hair follicles. It can be used on hair shafts to detangle them, add a mild non-greasy shine and to alleviate split ends to some extent. These benefits are due to rich Vitamin E in the oil. Vitamin E also prevents hair shafts from getting frayed and dehydrated by harsh, intense sunlight.  

Aromatherapy

Apple seed oil is not commonly used in aromatherapy, partly because it is not an essential oil. But it does possess an aroma which can be put to good use. Its aroma blends best with cinnamon. Apple resembling fragrances are used to make apple scented candles with added aroma of cinnamon that just smell fantastic. It gives a mix of temperate forest like woody and tropical spicy aroma. This is difficult to accomplish at home. However, if you are in contact with a candlemaker, then it can be possible to get an apple seed oil infused candle manufactured. However, this would take a lot of effort! Since apple seed oil is not an essential oil, it can’t be diffused using a diffuser.  

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Apple seeds are very rich in oil. About 25% of the weight of a seed is just oil. Within the oil, composition of fatty acids provides an insight into its therapeutic properties.  

Fuji apples contain the following fatty acids.  

Fatty acids   Carbon notation and type  Percentage by weight (approx) 
Linoleic acid  C 18:2 (PUFA)  50% 
Oleic acid  C 18:1 (MUFA)  38% 
Palmitic acid  C 16:0 (Saturated fat)  6.5% 
Stearic acid  C 18:0 (Saturated fat)  1.8% 
Arachidic acid   C 20:0 (Saturated fat)  1.5% 

Source: 2 

In some apple varieties, oleic acid content may overtake linoleic acid. Still, the oil is predominantly made up of unsaturated fats. This is what makes it light in consistency and texture. Both linoleic and oleic acid permeate into the skin fast, that is, they are easily absorbed and leave only a little oiliness on the top.  

Apple seed oil contains a whopping 96 mg of vitamin E per 100gm of oil. To bring that into perspective, our daily RDA of Vitamin E is 15mg. This shows clearly that apple seed oil is dense in vitamin E. Another point to note is that it is one of the few oils on earth to contain beta tocopherol form of vitamin E. Most oils are rich only in alpha tocopherol form and some may contain good amount of gamma tocopherol. But obtaining beta tocopherol is rare. We still do not know much about the unique benefits of beta tocopherol as much of the research is centered around the alpha-tocopherol. However, we do know that it is an antioxidant.  

Vitamin E being an antioxidant also protects the nerves from degeneration. Massage using oils rich in Vitamin E would be beneficial in nervous disorders that manifest as tingling, tickling, numbness, crawling of ants and other such related symptoms. Such a massage is also helpful in diabetic neuropathy which affects the limbs. In fact, vitamin E deficiency shows its symptoms in the form of nervous system problems. Apple seed oil ranks among the topmost oils rich in Vitamin E, the list is capped by wheat germ oil that provides 150 mg of vitamin E per 100 gm. 

Apple Seed oil has shown efficacy in killing cancer cells of the ovary, breast and cervix. So, it holds promise in developing drugs targeted at treating specific cancers that affect women. [3] 

Physical and chemical properties of oils are used to identify its applicability in various cosmetic products.  

Iodine number   121.8 
Saponification number  184.91 
Acid value   4.28 mg KOH/gm of oil 
Relative Density   0.902  
Refractive index   1.47 
Comedogenicity  unknown 

Source: 3  

Side Effects and Toxicity Issues

Apple seed oil is strictly not to be ingested. It is neither used for cooking, nor as salad dressing. It may contain some amount of amygdalin (which is not yet quantified) but there exists an element of toxicity to it. Therefore, it is only suitable for cosmetic uses.  

Certain people may suffer from inflammatory breakouts when they use oils rich in linoleic acid. This is rare but can occur if there is imbalance between omega-6 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid) in diet. Increasing consumption of omega-3 reduces the risk of such inflammations.  

Buying and Storage

Cold pressed virgin apple seed oil is difficult to find and buy as there are not many sellers online or offline. Most of the products are RBD apple seed oils which are still good for skin and hair conditioning. Cold pressed oils are obviously costlier. They are however less prone to rancidity as they contain a higher number of antioxidants.  

One should go for a cold pressed oil to obtain maximum benefits. It should be made from GMO free, organic harvest and the oil must be free from added preservatives and chemicals like hexane. Its shelf life is around 1 year as it goes rancid faster than other vegetable oils.  

References

  1. Vitamin E Oils – OilHealthBenefits.com 
  2. Analysis of components and study on antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of oil in apple seeds. Tian HL et al, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.  
  3. Fatty acid composition, physicochemical properties, antioxidant and cytotoxic activity of apple seed oil obtained from apple pomace. Walia M et al, Journal of the science of food and agriculture.  

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