Wonderfully delicious, nutty, and crunchy, almonds have long been revered as an epitome of health and wellness. The kernels are among the richest sources of health-benefiting plant-based nutrients .
Botanically, almonds obtained from a medium-sized tree in the Rosaceae family, and the genus: Prunus.
Scientific name: Prunus dulcis.
|Delicious nuts (kernels)-shelled.||Raw, green almonds.(Photo courtesy : Stepheye)|
The plant is a deciduous tree, probably originated from mineral-rich West-Asian mountain ranges that provide fertile conditions favoring its growth. In recent years, its cultivation and processing have spread across many regions of the world, including the United States, as a major commercial crop.
During each spring season, the almond tree is fully covered with attractive pinkish-white flowers that subsequently develop into fruits by autumn. In structure, the fruit is a "drupe," enclosing an edible "almond nut" (kernel) inside its hard shell.
The almond kernel features brown outer skin and creamy-white meat, oval to conical, measure about 2 cm long and 1 cm wide with each kernel weighing about 1.5 to 2g.
Almond nuts are rich sources of protein, omega 3's, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health-promoting antioxidants. They compose a well-balanced nutrient profile essential for optimum health and wellness.
Almonds are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic, and palmitoleic acids that help in lowering LDL ("bad cholesterol") and increasing HDL ("good cholesterol") levels in the blood. Research studies suggest that monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) rich Mediterranean diet is known to prevent coronary artery disease and stroke risk by facilitating a healthy blood lipid profile.
The nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E; hold about 25 mg per 100 grams (about 170% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid-soluble antioxidant. It restores cell membrane integrity of mucosa and skin and protects from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals.
Almonds are gluten free food items. For the same reason, they are one of the favorite ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations, in fact, are healthy alternatives in gluten allergy, and celiac disease people.
Almonds are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Altogether, these vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism inside the human body.
Furthermore, almonds are also an incredible source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
Almond oil, extracted from the kernels, is employed in cooking in Iran and Turkey. It is used as a “carrier or base oil” in some traditional medicines, aromatherapy, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Further, it is used as an emollient in cosmetics, and when applied regularly on the skin, it helps keep it well hydrated and protected from dryness.
A handful of almonds a day provide much of recommended levels of minerals, vitamins, and protein. Besides, the oil extracted from the nuts is employed in cooking and medicine as well.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||49.93 g||165%|
|Dietary Fiber||12.50 g||30%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.47 mg||9%|
|Vitamin A||2 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin E||26 mg||173%|
|Raw, dry almonds-unshelled. Note for the edible kernel inside.|
Almonds are readily available in the markets year-round. In the stores, however, different forms of nuts displayed for sale such as shelled, unshelled (with outer shell), salted, sweetened, or powdered (almond flour/meal), etc.
While buying, look for kernels that feature bright brown color, compact and uniform, and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks/cuts, mold, and spots, and rancid smell.
To store, place unshelled whole almonds in a cold, dry place for several months. However, shelled kernels should be kept inside an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent them turn rancid.
Raw whole nuts are cut open at processing units using large cracker machines. Smaller nut sheller equipment or handheld pliers usually suffice for domestic purposes.
Here are some serving tips:
Almonds can be enjoyed either raw, salted or sweetened.
Almonds are one of the most sought after among nuts that employed in a variety of rice dishes, savory and sweet preparations in the Middle-East region.
Almond splits are often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream preparations.
They employed widely in the confectionery, as an addition to cookies, biscuits, sweets, energy bars, and cakes. In France, frangipane is a favorite cake made of almond meal.
Green, mature almonds are incredibly delicious! These edible, young, tender nuts, hit farmer markets by late spring. To eat, cut open outer green cover using a paring knife and enjoy sweet, cream-white kernel inside!
Almond nut allergy, although not so common as other tree nut allergies like cashews, pistachio, etc. However, they may often cause hypersensitivity cross-reactions in some people to food substances prepared using them.
The type and severity of symptoms may vary and may include vomiting, diarrhea, pain abdomen, swelling of lips, and throat leading to breathing difficulty, and chest congestion. Therefore, caution should be exercised in those with nut allergic syndrome while consuming food items prepared with almond nuts. (Disclaimer).
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