Apricot Kernel Oil

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Apricot kernel oil is obtained from the kernels ( seeds ) of Apricots. After eating these delicious fruits, the seeds are used to make this light oil. Apricot kernel oil is great for use as a massage oil as it is very light and makes  the skin soft. Apricot kernels themselves are quite healthy and are being researched for a number of health conditions including cancer. Apricot kernel oil is quite similar to almond oil and its applications are also similar. This oil has a deep, nutty flavor which makes it an excellent ingredient for desserts and other recipes.



Source

Apricot kernel oil is extracted from seeds of Apricot ( Prunus armeniaca ). Apricots are native to Armenia, although it is believed that Apricots may have originated in China. The fruit is widely cultivated in Mediterranean and Central Asia. The largest producer of Apricots is Turkey. The seeds of apricot have a high percentage of oil. It is quite possible that this seed has been used to extract oil since ancient times. Apricot kernel oil has been mentioned in TCM ( Traditional Chinese medicine ) where it is used for treating tumors and ulcers. This use of apricot kernel spread far and wide with time and was used for this purpose in England in 17th century. Apricots themselves are great for a number of conditions. Eating just a few dried apricots can alleviate constipation because of the high fiber content in them.

There are two types of Apricot kernel oil.

  • Cosmetic only – This variety is only meant for topical application.
  • Edible – This variety can be used like sweet almond oil in cooking.
Apricot Oil
Apricot Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

Production

The oil can be obtained from kernels using solvent extraction or cold pressed method. Cold pressed is better as it does not alter the chemical compounds in the oil. One should go for organic, high quality apricot kernel oil which is cold pressed.



Properties

Apricot kernel oil possesses many therapeutic properties which make it suitable for its various uses.

  • Emollient – Apricot seed oil is a brilliant emollient ( moisturizer ).
  • Anti – Inflammatory – It reduces inflammation when applied topically or when ingested.
  • Anti-Aging – It provides nutrition and support to the skin so that aging is reduced.
  • Anti – Bacterial – This effect is made use of to treat clothes and other products to keep bacteria away. [1]
  • Anti Septic – reduces risk of infection in open wounds and cuts.
  • Antioxidant – prevents the skin from damage by free radicals.[2]

Color, Taste and Aroma

Aprioct kernel oil is generally light yellow in color. It can also be slighter darker yellow depending on the variety of apricots and the extraction process. There is a slight nutty aroma in this oil. The taste is nutty, somewhat like almonds. It is ideal for making confections like marzipan.

Health Benefits

apricot kernels for making apricot oil
apricot kernels for making apricot oil ( Photo credit : kingdavid )

Apricot kernel oil can be use for a variety of personal uses and many home remedies. It is also used in alternative medicine for treatment of cancer, although it has not been proved.

Apricot kernel oil for Skin

Apricot kernel oil is good for people with sensitive skin. It is non-irritant and soothing for the skin. It is light and quickly makes the skin soft and smooth. Apricot oil percolates deep into the skin. It is easy to apply on the skin as it quickly spreads on the skin. It soothes irritated skin. A massage with apricot kernel oil is good for dry, parched skin. One can use it after a shower to seal the moisture into the skin. Since it is light, it does not feel too oily. Once it is absorbed into skin,it provides moisturization for a long time.
Apricot kernel oil is one of the best carrier oils for massage. It penetrates nicely into the skin and also improves the delivery of essential oils and other herbal agents. This oil is also good for infusing with herbs and absorbing their essence. It can be utilized for various kinds of massage that require an oil.

Apricot kernel oil for Hair

Apricot oil is loved by many people around the world for their hair care. When applied to the hair shafts,it helps to detangle hair. These are the health benefits that organic apricot oil provides to hair.

  • It promotes hair growth because of the nutrients in it, especially Vitamin E.
  • It reduces dry scalp problems.
  • It helps to achieve gorgeous shiny hair without any greasiness.
  • When used as a hot oil treatment, it conditions the hair and provides them nutrition.
  • It softens the hair, so that they are more manageable and easily combed.

As an Under Eye Cream

Apricot oil can be applied just like almond oil for healing under eye skin. It aids in reducing dark circles, puffiness and helps to strengthen the skin around this region. With regular application of apricot kernel oil, one can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

Face Oil

Apricot kernel oil is a nice face oil, especially when compared to other heavier oils. It helps to improve skin tone, nourish the skin and lower the appearance of aging signs, like wrinkles, lines and blemishes. However, this oil should be avoided by people who are suffering from acne or are prone to acne. That is because it has a comedogenicity of 2. This means that the oil is mildly comedogenic and it can clog skin pores. This may result in acne breakouts and blackheads.



Heart Health

Consumption of apricot kernel oil can be healthier for the heart and the cardiovascular system. This oil has demonstrated ability to lower the risk of myocardial infarction ( heart attack ) in rats and can possibly perform the same function in humans [3] . One can take apricot oil in food as a salad dressing and by using it for cooking certain recipes that go well with the flavor of this oil.

Apricot oil is great for use in home made skin care products like facial toners, scrubs, dry and wet shampoo and exfoliants.

Uses

Besides its use as a healing agent and a home remedy for skin care, apricot kernel oil has many more uses. It is used in some recipes where it really brings out better flavor. However it is generally used only as a salad dressing on a regular basis.  Moreover, it has also got some industrial applications.

Apricot kernel oil for making Soap

Apricot oil is used as an ingredient in soaps. One can use it in home made soap recipes to have a lesser oily and slippery oil. It makes a nice base oil for the soap, in combination with coconut oil and palm oil, which are very common in soap making. Apricot oil adds a slight nutty aroma to the oil. It is also a good carrier for essential oils which are used in soap making like lemon essential oil, lavender oil and jasmine essential oil.

Production of Biodiesel

Apricot kernel oil is being evaluated for its potential to generate biodiesel and the results so far look good. Especially the oil from wild apricot varieties can be used for this purpose. [4]

Side Effects, Safety and Toxicity Issues

Apricot kernel oil is generally safe to use topically. However, when used internally, there is one thing to note. Apricot kernels contain a substance called amygdalin. This is converted by the body into cyanide, which is poisonous. This can lead to respiratory failure and may even be fatal. [5]
Amygdalin is usually removed from oil products. This is done to ensure that the oil product contains much less amygdalin than the safety limit. This is the case with almond oil, apricot oil and peach oil. However, one should be absolutely sure that the oil product has been processed to remove this poisonous substance.

Interactions

There is currently no information about the interactions of apricot oil with medication or other herbal products.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Apricot kernel oil is quite nutritious and it borrows its nutritional value from apricot kernels. Apricot oil is great for heart health as it contains mostly unsaturated fats. If taken in small amounts, one can expect to have cardiovascular health benefits and it may also help in lowering blood cholesterol levels, like other oils that are rich in unsaturated fats.
All the nutrition data is for 100 gm of apricot kernel oil.

Fatty Acid profile of Apricot kernel oil

The most important part about nutrition of any oil is its fatty acid profile, that is the fats that it contains. Apricot kernel oil is rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid. This is a breakdown of the fatty acids present in apricot kernel oil.
100 gm of apricot oil contains :

  • Saturated fatty acids – 6.3 gm
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) – 60 gm
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) – 29.3 gm

This shows that overall apricot kernel oil is very healthy heart wise. It has a very small amount of saturated fats.

Fatty Acid Profile : Apricot Kernel Oil

Nutrient Percentage Property
Gamma Linoleic Acid (18:3) PUFA
Stearic Acid (18:0) 0.5 % Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid (16:0) 5.8 % Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) 1.5 % MUFA
Oleic Acid (18:1) 58.5 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid (18:2) 29.3 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3) PUFA
Erucic Acid (22:1) MUFA
Gadoleic Acid (20:1) MUFA
Behenic Acid (22:0) Saturated fat
Arachidic Acid (20:0) Saturated fat

(Source : USDA )

From this data on the fatty acid nutritional value of apricot kernel oil, we infer that the oil is rich in omega – 9 ( oleic acid ) fatty acid. This is mainly responsible for the oil’s powerful emollient property. The oil is also rich in omega – 6 ( linoleic acid ). This makes it important to have omega sources in diet to match up with the omega 6 intake. This is important because our body needs a healthy ratio of omega – 3 to omega – 6 fatty acid in order to keep inflammation in check.

Besides healthy fats, apricot kernel oil is also rich in one particular nutrient, Vitamin E.  100 gm of apricot kernel oil provides about 20 % of RDI of Vitamin E.

Complete Nutritional Profile : Apricot Kernel Oil

Nutrient Value Percentage
Energy (Calories)  884  44%
Carbohydrates  0  0
Proteins  0  0
Fats  100  100%
Dietary fiber  0  0
Cholesterol  0  0
Sugars  0  0
Vitamins  Value  Percentage
Vitamin A  0  0
Thiamine (B1)  0  0
Riboflavin (B2)  0  0
Niacin (B3)  0  0
Pantothenic Acid (B5)  0  0
Pyridoxine (B6)  0  0
Biotin (B7)  0  0
Folic Acid (B9)  0  0
Vitamin B12  0  0
Vitamin C  0  0
Vitamin D  0  0
Vitamin E  4 mg  20%
Vitamin K  0  0
Electrolytes Value Percentage
Potassium  0  0
Sodium  0  0
Minerals Value Percentage
Iron  0  0
Calcium  0  0
Magnesium  0  0
Phosphorus  0  0
Zinc  0  0
Manganese  0  0
Copper  0  0
Selenium  0  0
Micro-Nutrients  Value  Percentage
Phytosterols  266 mg  –
Caffeine  0  –
Theobromine  0  –

(Source : USDA )

Chemical properties of Apricot Kernel Oil

Besides the nutrients, there are some chemical properties of an oil which are of great significance. They tell us about the broad chemical behavior of an oil. One of the most important of such properties is ORAC ( oxygen radical absorbance capacity ). It is a measure of how many oxygen free radicals a substance can mop up, which is equivalent to its antioxidant power.

Chemical Properties : Apricot Kernel Oil

Nutrient Percentage Property
Density  0.910  g/ml great for massage oil
Storage temperature  – Ideal temperature for storage
Comedogenicity  2 Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )
ORAC  – Antioxidant Power
pH  4.3  Measure of Acidity
Peroxide Value  less than 0.1  Measure of Initial Rancidity
Saponification Value  191.4  Measure of the average carbon chain length
Iodine Value  107  Measure of unsaturation of oil
Free Fatty Acids  0.015 %  Percentage of volatile oils

(Source : 7 )

Buying and Storage

Before buying apricot kernel oil, one should make sure that the oil conforms to the safety standards regarding amygdalin and other such compounds. The healthiest variety of oil is the cold pressed, organic oil. This oil is quite sensitive to light and heat and can get rancid quickly. Such a change is usually easily noticed in the taste of the oil. However, one should always keep this oil in a cool environment, away from light. The shelf life of this oil varies from 6 months to a year, which is low. If it is kept refrigerated, the shelf life increases. This oil is costlier than most other carrier oils. it costs about $ 5 for about 4 oz. The organic, edible oil is even costlier.

References

1. Antimicrobial activity of β-CD finished and apricot kernel oil applied fabrics. Haewon Chung, Joo-Yeon Kim. Fibers and Polymers
2. Chemical composition and antioxidant activities of ansu apricot oil growing wild in north Xinjiang, China. Hong-Lei Tiana & Ping Zhana. Natural Product Research: Formerly Natural Product Letters
3. Protective effects of apricot kernel oil on myocardium against ischemia–reperfusion injury in rats. Jing Zhang et. al.Food and Chemical Toxicology
4. Biodiesel from Siberian apricot (Prunus sibirica L.) seed kernel oil. Libing Wanga, b, Haiyan Yu. Bioresource Technology
5. Drugs and Poisons – Amygdalin, laetrile Patient. Information. Queensland government- Queensland Health.
6. USDA . Oi, Apricot Kernel.
7. Mountain Rose Herbs – Apricot Kernel Oil
8. Comedogenic Ratings – Beneficial Botanicals.

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