Apricot kernel oil – Gentle to skin and hair
Apricot kernel oil, often only as apricot oil, is becoming increasingly popular in skin and hair care. However, it is not obtained from the fruit, but from the core. Inside the core is the almond – from it the oil is pressed, which is used in the kitchen as well as in cosmetic products.
Two apricot sensors are used for the production of apricot kernel oil: sweet breeding apricots and acidic wild apricots. Almonds of breeding apricots have a marzipan-like taste, the almonds of wild apricots are bitter.
Apricot origin of the basis of apricot kernel oil
The apricot tree or also -strauch is originally from China. From about 3,000 BC, the apricot tree was also found in Armenia and soon came to Europe. Turkey is now considered one of the largest growing areas for apricots. Apricot trees are also grown in Italy, Hungary and Spain, as are growing areas in Switzerland and Austria.
In the Bavarian and Austrian-speaking areas, apricot is also known as marilla. It belongs to the genus Prunus of the rose family. The shrub or tree shows a round crown and reaches a growth height of up to six meters, occasionally the trees also reach heights of up to ten meters.
The apricot itself has a diameter between four and eight centimetres and a spherical or rarely somewhat elongated shape. It has a velvety, light yellow to orange-red colored skin, which often shows crimson spots or dots on the sunny side. The pulp can be easily detached from the core – the supplier of the almond for the apricot kernel oil.
Manufacture of apricot kernel oil
In Europe, apricots are harvested in July. First, the fresh fruit is dried. After about half of the drying time, the stones are pressed out of the fruit with the finger in breeding apricots, in the case of wild apricots the fruits for the removal of the stone are halved.
Apricot kernel oil is produced by hand, because the stones must also be dried and then cracked. The cores of the apricots are reminiscent of almonds, which are subjected to a hand-picked quality control. Broken and faulty cores are sorted out by hand.
By cold pressing, apricot kernel oil is extracted from the almonds. However, a large part of the oil is refined, as apricot kernel oil quickly becomes rancid due to the high content of unsaturated fatty acids. The oil from apricot kernels is thus made more durable by damping, deacidification and de-simuization. Refining can be carried out both physically and chemically. Physical refining involves much more effort. However, it is being used more and more frequently, because not only is the yield higher, but also the environment is much more spared. For use in the kitchen, however, the priority should be to use unrefined, native apricot kernel oil, which was obtained from the cores of the sweet breeding apricots.
Similarity to almond oil
The raw, still unrefined apricot oil shows a golden yellow color and resembles the almond oilin both aroma and ingredients. Both oils are therefore also used for similar purposes.
In 100% concentration, apricot kernel oil is one of the essential oils that can only be used in very small quantities. This is due to the risk that essential oils can be irritating and, at worst, even toxic. In moderation, the use of apricot kernel oil is therefore harmless.
Ingredients of apricot kernel oil
Apricot kernel oil contains many high-quality ingredients. The composition of the oil is as follows:
• 66.1 percent oleic acid (oleic acid, unsaturated fatty acid, omega-9 fatty acid)
• 25.3 percent linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid)
• 5.9 percent palmitic acid
• 1.6 percent stearic acid
• 0.6 percent palmitoleic acid
Furthermore, the following vitamins, minerals and trace elements are found in apricot kernel oil:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin B3
• Vitamin B17
• in sweet kernels: copper, fluorine, iron
• in bitter seeds: iron, zinc, manganese
In apricot kernel oil, oleic acid is the largest. It is considered to be the most important representative of the essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce itself.
Linoleic acid contributes to a healthy skin. It is also essential and must be fed to the organism via food.
Palmitic acid is one of the saturated fatty acids and contributes to the regulation of cholesterol levels and a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. It is a major intermediate of human metabolism.
Stearic acid is a saturated carbonic acid and fatty acid that leaves a protective film on the skin.
Palmitoleic acid is an unsaturated omega-7 fatty acid that can prevent fatty liver disease and diabetes and helps relieve inflammation.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body needs for skin, mucous membranes and eyes. Vitamin A is also involved in the growth processes of many cells.
Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
On the one hand, vitamin E is needed for the processing of fats in the body and protects multi-bound unsaturated fatty acids from their decay, which would be caused by free radicals. As an antioxidant, it thus counteracts skin aging.
The body needs vitamin B3 (niacin) for various metabolic processes. It is soluble in water and is used, for example, in the production of fatty acids. It also works in mucosal inflammation.
Vitamin B17 (amygdalin) stimulates metabolism. This speeds up the conversion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins into usable energy.
Iodine is especially important for the thyroid gland, it is a trace element that must be fed through food. In the case of iodine deficiency, there may be an underfunction of the thyroid gland. The iodine count in apricot kernel oil is in the upper range at 96 to 109 on the scale and is considered a quality feature for the oil.
Iron is one of the trace elements and is vital. In the organism it can be found in muscle protein, in red blood dye as well as in various enzymes. It provides oxygen transport in the red blood cells and is involved in the formation of certain enzymes.
In fact, fluorine is considered a trace element. However, it is also toxic and occurs only in the bitter apricot kernels, which are not used for the production of apricot kernel oil, which is intended for consumption. However, fluorine is also found in humans in bones and teeth.
Copper is one of the important trace elements that are part of various enzymes. It is involved in different bodily functions and is also called an antioxidant. It contributes to blood formation and also affects the immune system.
The mineral magnesium has a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect on the human organism. Magnesium can help with diabetes, plays an important role in the body’s protein production and muscle building and ensures increased performance.
Potassium is one of the minerals and is particularly necessary for regulating the water balance. It also plays a crucial role in the transmission of stimuli to the nerves and the regulation of blood pressure. It is also important in the gastrointestinal tract that it is a component of digestive juices.
Manganese is an essential trace element needed for the formation of strong and healthy bones, for the formation of new glucose, for the formation of melanin (skin pigments) and also for the formation of dopamine (happy neurotransmitter). It continues to control the mitochondria and is a part of different enzymes in the body. Manganese deficiency is rather rare, as magnesium can also take over the tasks of the trace element. At the latest with a magnesium deficiency, however, there are also symptoms of deficiency.
Phosphorus is one of the minerals that is absorbed as phosphate through food. Together with calcium, it helps to make bones and teeth firmer. It also influences energy production and plays a role in the construction of cell walls.
Zinc is one of the vital trace elements and is involved in many metabolic reactions. For example, it is important for growth, for the skin, for the immune system, for protein synthesis, for the storage of insulin and for the production of sperm. The defensive function of the human organism depends on the zinc balance.
Application of apricot kernel oil
Apricot kernel oil is primarily used in the cosmetics industry, but is also used in the kitchen. Apricot kernel oil is also said to be helpful against cancer.
Apricot kernel oil in cosmetics
In the cosmetics industry, apricot kernel oil is mainly used in skin and hair care as well as in aromatherapy. The cosmetics industry uses only refined apricot kernel oil, as a native oil is too unstable.
In skin care, linoleic acid contained in apricot kernel oil is particularly important. It is a regular component of the skin and regulates the water balance of the epidermis: it also maintains the barrier function of the skin, which is why apricot kernel oil is suitable for care, especially in dry skin. Apricot kernel oil also helps with skin irritation (e.g. light damage such as age spots, contact dermatitis) or against blackheads. Since apricot kernel oil is very mild, it is also suitable for baby care.
Apricot kernel oil also plays a role in hair care. The hair is moisturized, becomes fuller and remains supple. In addition, the scalp is cared for, itchy scalp and dandruff is counteracted in this way.
The aroma of apricot kernel oil is, as the name suggests, important in aromatherapy. It is used here as an additive in bathing water or in inhalation. It is also very popular as a massage oil. As part of aromatherapy, the essential apricot kernel oil is demonstrably absorbed into the bloodstream by inhalation and can also contribute to the release of positive hormones during massages and thus have a beneficial effect on the body and soul.
In principle, apricot kernel oil can be used universally as a base oil, because this oil is also well tolerated by sensitive skin. It is ideal for producing light moisturizers, but also for mixing with other oils (e.g. B. Grape seed oil, evening primrose oil, jojoba oil).
Apricot kernel oil in the kitchen
In contrast to cosmetics, the kitchen mainly uses the unrefined apricot kernel oil. This is partly due to the fact that refined oil has hardly any taste and loses a large part of the ingredients due to the heat treatment. Vitamin E suffers particularly from refining. For the diet, therefore, a natural apricot kernel oil from gentle cold pressing should be used as far as possible.
Apricot kernel oil is excellent lyless as a basis for dressings or for refining desserts. However, natural apricot kernel oil is not suitable for frying and cooking, due to the low smoke point, even unhealthy vapours can arise. The refined apricot kernel oil is much better suited for cooking and frying, as it is heat resistant and its smoke point is around 200° C. When buying refined oil, however, care should be taken to ensure that it is suitable for consumption.
Apricot kernel oil in medicine
Especially in the bitter apricot kernels, the content of vitamin B17 should be very high. The vitamin, known as amygdalin, is said to be able to prevent certain cancers.
Amygdalin is actually a compound of the toxic substances benzaldehyde and cyanide (blue acid). In combination, both substances are not active. However, if a solution is found by the fission enzyme beta-glucosidase, the two substances are broken down and cause the degenerate cells to kill in the cancer cells in which the enzyme is located. For this, of course, the vitamin must also enter such a cell.
As a rule, apricot kernel oil is only used to prevent cancer. In the case of an existing cancer, the necessary dose would lead to damage to the liver and endocrine glands.
In homeopathic medicine, apricot kernel oil is also used in the treatment of diarrhea, mucosal inflammation and depression. It can also relieve the pain caused by sunburn. It has a cooling effect and is therefore also recommended for the relief of itching during insect bites.
Effects of apricot kernel oil
Apricot kernel oil develops its positive effect, especially in the context of skin care. Here it ensures
• a firmer skin, which is also softer
• relief from inflammation
• a regression of light-related age spots
• faster skin renewal by faster repelling of dead skin areas
• better skin hydration
• a reduction in blackheads
• a general improvement of the skin’s image
However, the effect of the apricot kernel oil is only apparent in already damaged and reddened skin, because only this can absorb the large molecules of linoleic acid.
Apricot kernel oil has the following effects on the hair:
• Prevention of damage to dry and shady hair
• Reduction of dry scalp
• Prevention of dandruff and itching
The vitamins contained in apricot kernel oil also have the following effects:
• Vitamin A: promoting cell growth, involvement in the development of skin and mucous membranes, repair of damaged cells, support of the immune system (complicates the penetration of viruses and bacteria into the organism), promotion of the formation of new leukocytes and Platelets
• Vitamins of the B complex: positive effect on the entire nervous system (e.g. arousal transfer between nerves and muscles), positive influence on energy metabolism, positive effect on amino acid metabolism, vitamin B17 should be preventive against certain Cancers have an effect
• Vitamin E: effect as an antioxidant against free radicals and thus promote wound healing and slow down the aging process of the skin
In addition, the unsaturated fatty acids contained in apricot kernel oil are attributed to the following effects:
• Lowering cholesterol levels
• Prevention of atherosclerosis
• Prevention of coronary heart disease
• Support for the cardiovascular system
Does apricot kernel oil have side effects?
In low dosage, no side effects are expected when using apricot kernel oil. A small dose is important because the amount of cyanide (blue acid) released must be kept so low that it remains tolerable and degradable for the body.
Studies on apricot kernel oil
Studies on the effects of apricot kernel oil have been and are being conducted many. This is also the case with regard to the preventive effect against cancer. However, the results of the examinations for conventional medicine are not yet sufficient, which is why apricot kernel oil is currently only used in homeopathic medicine. Further studies need to be carried out on the anti-cancer effects, as well as on the results of lowering cholesterol levels or minimizing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
However, it has been proven that apricot kernel oil has a positive effect as a skin care product and is therefore highly appreciated by the cosmetics industry. In particular, the linoleic acid contained in apricot kernel oil plays an important role in the regeneration of damaged skin. Preventive against skin damage, the oil from apricot kernels only works by ingestion.
Especially with dry skin, the application of apricot kernel oil is very popular, because it provides the skin with moisture without leaving an unpleasant fat film.
Buy apricot kernel oil – What to consider?
When buying apricot kernel oil, it is important to pay attention to the price. High-quality apricot kernel oil has its price, a low price often stands for a poorer quality. The ingredients are very low in low-priced apricot kernel oil, the oil is really diluted by fillers.
Although the products in health stores and organic markets are usually somewhat more expensive, the guarantee for a high-quality product, which is also cold-pressed and natural, is much higher. This also applies to cosmetic products, whereby as an alternative to cosmetic products pure apricot kernel oil can also be used.
Conclusion on apricot kernel oil
For a long time the apricot kernel oil was forgotten and even today the positive properties of the oil are misunderstood by many. However, people with mature or sensitive skin in particular can benefit from the application of the oil from apricot kernels. Although apricot kernel oil is suitable for all skin types, it shows its effect primarily on dry skin. Pure apricot kernel oil can also be used to remove make-up. Thanks to its valuable ingredients, it is not only a makeover for the skin, but also shows a slightly antibacterial effect.
And even if apricot kernel oil is above all a very nourishing product for skin and hair, it would be a pity to use it only for this purpose. Especially applied internally, the body can benefit from the oil just as well as applied externally. The human organism is supplied with many important nutrients, which is why apricot kernel oil should not be neglected in the kitchen.