The Amandier (Prunus amygdalus) comes from the Middle-East. It belongs to the Rosacea family and of the genus Prunus in which we also find cherry-trees, plum trees, peach trees and apricot-trees. There are two kinds of almonds: the sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus dulcis) and the bitter almond (Prunus amygdalus Amara). It the first variety which is used for food; the second one can be toxic for the body if taken in large quantity due to its hydrocyanic acid content.
The consumption of almonds and their nutritional virtues are known from ages.
The almond had been mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament and it had been appreciated in breads for Egyptian pharaohs.
The tree takes its origin from Western Asia’s plateaus and mountains. It has been cultivated for 5000-6000 years in Iran. It has been introduced in Egypt by the Hebrews and taken back to Europe by the Greeks. The Romains then brought the almond in Italy and it was called the ‘Greek Almond’. The almond tree arrived in South of France in the 5th century BC, but it had really been developed in the Middle-Ages. The Hebrews spread the almond tree all around the Mediterranean basin during their periods of war and conquest.
In the Middle-Ages, the consumption of almonds for cooking is very important and from the 16th century a significant part of the Venetian commerce was related to the almond.
DID YOU KNOW ? The almond was the symbol of love and fertility. The Romans used to throw almonds to newlyweds to wish them children and happiness. There were often consumed and recommended for fecundity. Nowadays, this tradition continues with the dragées for weddings and christenings.
The almonds offer a unique nutritional composition and characteristics; they represent the nut the most nutritive.
The almonds have a significant rate of high quality vegetal proteins. The almonds represent a potential source of proteins for a daily ration with an equivalent content to the meet.
From a qualitative point of view, the almonds are rich in arginine – an amino acid for cardio-vascular prevention – as well as in histidine, a natural allergy treatment. As being a vegetal, the almond contains limiting factors, including the lysine amino acid, which has to be completed with other vegetal proteins sources (such as legumes for instance).
The almonds represent a key proteinaceous alternative for diet, especially for vegetarians with more than 20% of proteins.
Even if the almond is rich in fats, it is really healthy for the body as it is mainly constituted with essential unsaturated fatty acids. With a low proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, its lipid profile is known as being very interesting and recommended for the Mediterranean diet.
As being poor in sugar, the almonds are rich in fibres (80% of soluble fibres and 20% of insoluble fibres) which are essential for the digestive balance.
The almond differentiates from the other nuts thanks to its content in minerals, especially in calcium and magnesium as well as high quantity of potassium, phosphor, copper and iron.
As being rich in Vitamins E, the almonds can represent up to ¾ of the daily-recommended diet. This fat-soluble vitamin is a powerful antioxidant which fights against oxidative stress and the formation of free radicals.
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