Almond or Prunus amygdalus is the fruit of the almond tree. This oval-shaped oleaginous fruit belongs to the Rosaceae family.
Its tree blooms at the end of winter and can grow as tall as 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters). The harvest takes place in two distinct time frames during the year (May or end of September), depending on whether you want fresh almonds or dry ones.
There are two main almond varieties: sweet almond and bitter almond. This second one is poisonous.
Popular for its use in cosmetology, almond is also very effective to keep us healthy. It has even been processed to create butter, oil and sweet almond milk.
- Read also: how to grow an almond tree
Almond, a short story
Native to the Middle East, sweet almond arrived in Egypt thanks to the Hebrews and in Europe thanks to the Greeks.
Almond reached France and was cultivated there as early as 500 years before Christ. In the middle ages it was much appreciated, especially in the form of milk.
Egyptian Pharaohs used almonds in bread dough, and its oil was used for massage.
In Ancient Greece, they were dipped in honey before being munched on.
The Romans would throw almonds on newlyweds to ensure they would bear many children. Since those days, candied almonds are still offered at weddings.
Sweet almond health benefits and therapeutic value
Very high-calorie, 570kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g), sweet almond is extremely nourishing and is an incredible energy reserve.
Sweet almond has high carbohydrate contents (50%). Surprisingly, none of it is cholesterol. Indeed, it contains mono-unsaturated fatty acids (omega 6 and 9) that increase good cholesterol levels while reducing the bad one.
Thus, sweet almond reduces advent of cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer and arterial hypertension.
Its high fiber content (15%) makes for better digestion. It is a very good laxative.
Additionally, it satiates and cuts hunger, which reduces snacking.
Recommendation: drink a teaspoon of sweet almond oil after meals.
It is an excellent source of vitamin E, a very good antioxidant against premature ageing. It also enhances wound-healing.
However, vitamin C is not so present.
Sweet almond oil alleviates heartburn by protecting the mucus cells that line the stomach walls. In case of gastric ulcers, it is very effective.
It can also eliminate pulmonary tract mucus.
Sweet almond is suggested in case of physical and intellectual fatigue. It makes for a great snack. (Ideal for students during a long exam).
Lastly, almond tree buds are used in gemmotherapy since they have been said to have anti-sclerosis effects for elderly persons. In case of hypercoagulation it is used to fluidify blood.
Sweet almond is a mineral gold mine. It provides potassium (860mg) for arterial blood pressure, phosphorus (500mg) for the nervous system, calcium (248mg) for bone build-up and magnesium (230mg) to regulate stress (values for 3.5 oz (100 g)).
Its glycemic index is 15. For diabetic persons, eating almonds doesn’t result in increased blood sugar levels. Take almonds if you feel like you need a break.
However, hull nuts like almonds have occasionally caused allergies and related bruises and itchiness.
- Ingestion of almond
Drink a teaspoon of sweet almond oil against cough or bronchitis.
Or prepare an infusion and you’ll have the same benefits.
- External use of almond
Sweet almond oil, with its wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, can also treat cutaneous stress: dermatitis, burns, crevasses or sunburns. Massage into the skin on the wounded areas.
Cooking with almond
Snack on your almonds whole, sliced, salted, grilled, dried, diced, crushed and powdered.
It will pair well with pastries (almond-filling pie), salads and roasts.
- Savory ideas
For appetizers, raw with dried raisins.
In main courses, almonds add a crunch to your fish and meat.
For dessert, slice them over a crumble, on a bowl of ice cream or in French crêpes. Or again, use the powder to make Three King’s Cake. Almond paste is the base for marzipan.
Cow milk or lactose intolerance: Very nutritious, sweet almond plant milk perfectly replaces cow milk. To make your own sweet almond milk: dunk 3.5 oz (100 g) powdered almond in ½ quart (½ liter) water. Boil and filter out any residue.
Small tip: Best to eat almonds raw, they are more nutritious than roasted ones.
Keeping: in a dry spot at room temperature, in an airtight container.
- Almond beauty tips
Sweet almond boasts many properties for your beauty. It hydrates and nourishes dry skin and scalp. It is also a very good at preventing wrinkles and dandruff.
Apply to your face the following preparation: 1 table spoon honey, lemon and sweet almond oil. Let it work for 15 minutes and rinse off.
Mix 1 table spoon almond oil with ½ lemon, pressed, and 2 table spoons sugar to scrub dead skin away. Apply with a circular motion.
For women, sweet almond oil prevents or reduces stretch marks.
For men, apply sweet almond oil on your face just before shaving. Its hydrating power protects and prepares your skin against the blade’s irritation.
Sweet almond oil can be applied on babies after they’ve been washed.
For split ends
Apply a couple drops of sweet almond oil on split ends. Let it work and then rinse with running water.
- Read also: how to grow an almond tree