Apricot kernel oil is cold-pressed from the dried seeds of the fruit of the apricot tree. This natural oil is light-colored and fragrant, imparting a somewhat nutty aroma. This oil is excellent to use for high-temperature frying and cooking and to make salad dressings According to James A. Duke, Ph.D., apricot kernel oil is rich in fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E. This makes the oil highly nutritious. The oil is also commonly used in the cosmetics industry in the production of various personal care products, particularly skin care formulas. Apricot kernel oil is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammatory skin disorders, often in combination with other botanical materials. What’s in It? Semra Turan and fellow scientists at Abant Izzet Baysal University in Turkey published a paper in the Dec. 26, 2007 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” that detailed the compositions of oils obtained from nine different varieties of apricots grown in the Malatya region of Turkey. Collectively, all of the apricot kernels contained between 40.23 and 53.19 percent oil. In addition, the samples contained up to 70.83 percent oleic acid, 21.96 percent linoleic acid and smaller amounts of palmitic and stearic acids. Nutritional Benefits Due to a high oleic acid and linoleic acid content, apricot kernel oil is considered a good source of unsaturated fats. As the American Heart Association notes, this makes the oil healthier to use in cooking since fats “saturated” with hydrogen atoms -- otherwise known as saturated fats -- contain more energy, which translates into more calories from fat. Although the chemical structure of apricot kernel oil makes it more susceptible to turning rancid from lipid peroxidation, the presence of natural antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help to offset decomposition and extend shelf life. The oil is also encapsulated for use a dietary supplement because it is an excellent source of essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Cosmetic Use Apricot kernel oil is found in many different types of cosmetics and personal care products, including soaps, creams, lotions, ointments, shampoos and conditioners. Unlike some oils that remain on the surface of the skin, apricot kernel oil is readily absorbed without leaving a greasy residue. If you tend to experience dry, itchy skin after bathing or showering, this is the perfect oil to lightly apply to damp skin before toweling off. Uses of apricot kernel oil Despite the controversy over apricot kernels, many people still regularly incorporate apricot kernel oil, or the seeds themselves, into their diet. The greatest danger appears to stem from eating the raw bitter kernels in large amounts. Some health organizations, such as the British Food Standards Agency, have released bulletins advising the public not to consume more than a handful or so of kernels a day. Cold-pressed apricot kernel oil, however, has many conventional uses and is widely accepted as a safe oil for both cooking and body care. Here are five common uses of apricot kernel oil in the home or kitchen:
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