African Journal of Biotechnology

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Secondary metabolites of the argan tree (Morocco) may have disease prevention properties

F Khallouki, B Spiegelhalder, H Bartsch, R W Owen


The argan tree (Argania spinosa L. Skeels) is native to Morocco, where after the Holly oak it constitutes the second most common tree in the country. Recent studies suggest that dietary argan oil, an endemic seed oil from argan fruits, may have a relevant role in disease prevention, and its consumption could protect against atherosclerosis and cancer. Unfortunately, in less than a century, more than a third of the forest has disappeared. It is therefore imperative to improve the tree\'s production potential so that it can regain its key position in the agricultural systems of the region. On the basis of ethnobotanical knowledge, researchers are screening metabolites of this rare plant to identify bioactive compounds for the development of new therapeutic agents and food supplements. This includes studies on secondary metabolites with chemopreventive activities. In this review, a complete outline of components (triglycerides, unsaponifiable, phenolic antioxidants and aroma constituents) are described. Finally, a discussion of the biological functions of the polar and non-polar A. spinosa products which have been evaluated using a range of in vitro bioassays are described.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 4 (5), pp. 381-388, 2005

AJOL African Journals Online