The almond is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. "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 surrounding the seed.
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 (i.e., after the shells are removed), or unshelled (i.e., with the shells still attached). 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.
The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 3–5 inches long, with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, 3–5 cm diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring.Almonds begin bearing an economic crop in the third year after planting. Trees reach full bearing five to six years after planting. The fruit matures in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.
Those who consume nuts five times a week have about a 50 percent reduction in risk of heart attack according to the Loma Linda School of Public Health.
Almonds added to the diet have a favorable effect on blood cholesterol levels.
It was found that the flavonoids in almond skins work in synergy with the vitamin E, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
Almonds help build strong bones and teeth. The phosphorus in almonds helps make this possible.
They provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss. Although nuts are high in fat, frequent nut eaters are thinner on average than those who almost never consume nuts. Those who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than were those who never or seldom ate them in a study involving 8865 adults.
Almonds lower the rise in blood sugar and insulin after meals.
They help provide good brain function. Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
They nourish the nervous system. According to Ayurveda, almonds help increase high intellectual level and longevity.
They alkalize the body. Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming. When your body is not alkaline enough, you risk osteoporosis, poor immune function, low energy and weight gain.
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