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The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus) is a species of tree native to
the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and North Africa.
"Almond" is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree.
Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus,
distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated shell (endocarp) surrounding the
The fruit of the almond is a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with
the seed, which is not a true nut, inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to
reveal the seed. Almonds are sold shelled or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled
almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed
to reveal the white embryo.
Origin and history
Almonds are mentioned as far back in history as the Bible. They were a prized
ingredient in breads served to Egypt's pharos. Their exact ancestry in unknown, but almonds
are thought to have originated in China and Central Asia.
Explorers ate almonds while traveling the "Silk Road" between Asia and the
Mediterranean. Before long, almond trees flourished in the Mediterranean -- especially in
Spain and Italy.
The almond tree was brought to California from Spain in the mid-1700's by the
Franciscan Padres. The moist, cool weather of the coastal missions, however, did not
provide optimum growing conditions. It wasn't until the following century that trees were
successfully planted inland. By the 1870's, research and cross-breeding had developed
several of today's prominent almond varieties. By the turn of the 20th century, the almond
industry was firmly established in the Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California's
great Central Valley.
Throughout history, almonds have maintained religious, ethnic and social
significance. The Bible's "Book of Numbers" tells the story of Aaron's rod that blossomed
and bore almonds, giving the almond the symbolism of divine approval.
The Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm. Today,
Americans give guests at weddings a bag of sugared almonds, representing children,
happiness, romance, good health and fortune. In Sweden, cinnamon-flavored rice pudding
with an almond hidden inside is a Christmas custom. Find it, and good fortune is yours for a
Sweet and bitter almonds
The seeds of Prunus dulcis var. Dulcis are predominantly sweet, but some
individual trees produce seeds that are somewhat more bitter. The genetic basis for
bitterness involves a single gene, the bitter flavour furthermore being recessive, both aspects
making this trait easier to domesticate. The fruits from Prunus dulcis var. Amara are always

bitter, as are the kernels from other Prunus species, such as peach and cherry (to a lesser
The bitter almond is slightly broader and shorter than the sweet almond, and
contains about 50% of the fixed oil that occurs in sweet almonds. It also contains the
enzyme emulsin which, in the presence of water, acts on soluble glucosides, amygdalin, and
prunasin, yielding glucose, cyanide and the essential oil of bitter almonds, which is nearly
pure benzaldehyde, the chemical causing the bitter flavor. Bitter almonds may yield from 4
9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond and contain 42 times higher amounts of cyanide than
the trace levels found in sweet almonds. The origin of cyanide content in bitter almonds is
via the enzymatic hydrolysis of amygdalin.
Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally, but even in small doses, effects
are severe or lethal, especially in children; the cyanide must be removed before
consumption. The acute oral lethal dose of cyanide for adult humans is reported to be 0.5
3.5 mg/kg of body weight (approximately 50 bitter almonds), whereas for children,
consuming 510 bitter almonds may be fatal.
15 magnificent health benefits of almonds
By eating nuts regularly can prevent coronary heart disease, because almonds have
the effect of lowering cholesterol levels. Recent research has shown that the addition of
almonds on a number of different food turned out to donate a positive effect on heart
health.This is because the benefits of Almonds can lower the glycemic response to food and
reduce oxidative damage of food. Due almonds also contain monounsaturated fats and are
antioxidants. In addition, the skin of almonds also contain about 30 different antioxidant
compounds that give many different health benefits. And here are the other health benefits
of almonds:
1. Lowering LDL Cholesterol
Almonds contain mono-unsaturated fat and poly-unsaturated fat, which can lower LDL
cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
2. Reduce Risk of Hypertension
Almonds are known to contain lots of potassium which plays an important role in
controlling blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
3. Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis
Almonds contain a lot of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus which maintain bone density,
thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones).
4. Sources of energy
Almonds are an excellent source of energy. Almonds provide energy for the body, such as
protein, vitamin B2, copper and manganese. All these substances are very important to help
you lose weight because the body can make staying active longer without consuming
calories from fat food sources.
5. Maintain Digestive Health
Almonds contain fiber food (dietary fiber), which aid digestion so it helps maintain a

healthy digestive tract.

6. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Almonds contain phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol stigmasterol, and campesterol are
thought to contribute to cardiovascular health. Eating almonds can reduce the risk of heart
7. Cancer prevention
Almond increase the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing colon cancer.
8. Protection against diabetes
Almonds also help in reducing the rise in sugar and insulin levels after meals. It is good for
protection from diabetes.
9. Good for the brain
Almonds are a source of nutrients that can help brain development. Almond induces high
intellectual level and has been considered as an important food for growing children. Many
mothers give almonds soaked in water to their children every day in the morning. 2-3 pieces
of soaked almonds, outer skin may also be removed to avoid allergies.
10. Prevent birth defects
Almonds contain folic acid which has a very important role for the growth of cells and
tissue. By eating almonds during pregnancy will help the growth of fetal tissue so that the
fetus will not experience a disability at birth.
11. Controlling Body Weight
Manganese, copper and Riboflavin which found in almond seeds play an important role in
helping to control body metabolism. good metabolism can reduce the accumulation of
calories in the form of body fat. Eating almonds can reduce the risk of overweight.
12. Protect the body from free radical damage
Almonds are loaded with vitamin E, which are antioxidants that prevent cell damage from
free radicals.
13. Smooth Skin
Almond milk is widely used in soap products for the skin. Vitamin E which found in
almonds nutritious seeds nourish and soften the skin.
14. Natural moisturizer
Created pure almond oil is a natural moisturizer to protect the skin against dryness. The
almond oil by provide natural foods as well as restore the dead skin cells.
15. Strengthen hair
Almond oil contained in the act effective when treating hair loss and increase hair growth.
Culinary use
Along with other nuts, almonds can be sprinkled over breakfasts and desserts,
particularly muesli or ice cream based dishes. Almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, many

pastries (including jesuites), cookies (including French macarons, macaroons), and cakes
(including financiers), noghl and other sweets and desserts.
They are also used to make almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular
with peanut allergy sufferers and for its naturally sweeter taste. The young, developing fruit
of the almond tree can be eaten whole ("green almonds") when they are still green and
fleshy on the outside and the inner shell has not yet hardened.
The fruit is somewhat sour, but is a popular snack in parts of the Middle East, eaten
dipped in salt to balance the sour taste. Available only from mid April to mid June in the
northern hemisphere, pickling or brining extends the fruit's shelf life.
Almond milk
Almond milk is a plant milk with a creamy texture and nutty taste. It contains
neither cholesterol nor lactose, and is often consumed by the lactose-intolerant and others
who wish to avoid dairy products, including vegans. Commercial almond milk comes in
sweetened, unsweetened, plain, vanilla and chocolate flavors, and is usually enriched with
vitamins. It can also be made at home using a blender, almonds and water.
Almond meal
Almond meal, almond flour or ground almond is made from ground sweet almonds.
Almond flour is usually made with blanched almonds (no skin), whereas almond meal can
be made both with whole or blanched almonds. The consistency is more like corn meal than
wheat flour.
It is used in pastry and confectionery in the manufacture of almond macarons and
other sweet pastries, in cake and pie filling, such as Sachertorte and is one of the two main
ingredients of marzipan and almond paste. In France, almond meal is an important
ingredient in frangipane, the filling of traditional galette des Rois cake.
Almond meal has recently become important in baking items for those on low
carbohydrate diets. It adds moistness and a rich nutty taste to baked goods. Items baked with
almond meal tend to be calorie-dense.
Almonds have high levels of polyunsaturated fats in them. Typically, the omega 6 fatty acids
in almonds are protected from oxidation by the surface skin and vitamin E. When almonds
are ground, this protective skin is broken and exposed surface area increases dramatically,
greatly enhancing the nut's tendency to oxidize.
Almond syrup
Historically, almond syrup was an emulsion of sweet and bitter almonds, usually
made with barley syrup (orgeat syrup) or in a syrup of orange flower water and sugar, often
flavored with a synthetic aroma of almonds.
Due to the cyanide found in bitter almonds, modern syrups generally are produced
only from sweet almonds. Such syrup products do not contain significant levels of
hydrocyanic acid, so are generally considered safe for human consumption.
Almonds Worldwide: Traditions and Customs of Cultures Around the World
Mediterranean Cultures
In the mid-1700s, Franciscan Padres brought the almond tree to California from

Spain, and planted the trees to grace their missions along El Camino Real (The Royal Road)
that stretches along the California coast from San Diego to Sonoma.
Almonds play an integral part in the Mediterranean diet, which includes fresh
produce, grains, nuts and olive oil in abundance, and includes small amounts of fish, dairy
products and meat.
In Italy, Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm and gave
sugared almonds as gifts to great men at public and private events in classical times. Today,
gifts of colored, candy-coated almonds (Jordan almonds) mark important celebratory
milestones in Italy. Pink is given for the firth of a girl, blue for the birth of a boy, red for
graduations, green for engagements, white for marriage, silver for a 25th anniversary and
gold for a 50th anniversary.
Asian Cultures
In India, almonds are perceived to possess a number of health benefits. Many
children are given almonds every day to promote mental acuity, and pregnant women are
urged to eat almonds every day.
Japan has a wide array of sweets to satisfy discriminating almond-chocoholics. Two
favorites are oval balls of almonds coated in chocolate and pretzel sticks dipped in mink,
dark or white chocolate and coated with diced almonds. Slivered almonds with dried
sardines are also a popular, high-calcium snack.
In China, almonds are consumed as a roasted, salted, in-shell snack, with sales at
their peak during the Chinese New Year festive season. Chinese consumers enjoy the action
of cracking the soft, outer shell of almonds with their hands and popping the kernel into
their mouths.
European Cultures
Distributing sugared almonds wrapped in tulle as a wedding favor is a tradition that
dates back to early European history. These almond bonbonieres symbolize children,
happiness, romance, good health and fortune.
Almond paste is used to make Germanys famous marzipan confections. German
processors also use almonds as ingredients in breakfast cereals, ice cream and bakery
On January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany in France, the French traditionally eat a
Galette des Rois(the cake of the Kings), a puff pastry filled with almond cream. The finder
of a charm that is hidden in the cake becomes the King and must choose his Queen or vice
versa. The cake is sold with a golden crown that must then be worn by the King.