Harvested between August and September, when they have reached full maturity, they are one of the main ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine. They fight wrinkles, are useful against cholesterol and also perform anticancer functions
They fight wrinkles, they are useful against cholesterol, they are suitable for pregnant women and are used to prevent osteoporosis: they are almonds. Perhaps the only real contraindication for this extraordinary seed is that we should not overdo it in consuming it. For the rest it is simply one of the most used ingredients in typical Mediterranean cuisines, it brings a series of unsuspected benefits and above all, it is very good.
Time to harvest the almonds
Despite being native to central Asia, almonds have perfectly adapted in Italy due to its temperate climate and are harvested between August and September when they have reached full maturity. The almond plant in fact, from the scientific name of Amygdalus Communis, is characterized by three different qualities. The Sativa, which produces a sweet seed with a hard endocarp, represents most of the cultivated species because the seed is edible and is used in the kitchen both when it is still fresh and when it is dry for the preparation of numerous dishes, but also for the making a typical flour, and finally for the extraction of almond oil. A second quality is the Amara, which is characterized by its very bitter and inedible seed, if not following a difficult treatment (not recommended) due to the presence of amygdalin that develops hydrocyanic acid. A third variety, Fragilis, has a sweet seed and a fragile endocarp. If the qualities are limited to three types, the same thing cannot be said of the varieties so there are over 20 depending on the production, the flowering period, the percentage of double seeds (less useful from the commercial point of view), and geographical origin. Simplifying it can be said that most of the Italian national production is territorially linked to Puglia and Sicily but it is precisely a simplification.
The properties of almonds
Almonds have a high nutritional value thanks to the presence of proteins, vitamins (especially B and E), fats and mineral salts such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron: in particular for 55% fat, 25% proteins and 20% sugars. And although there are not yet exhaustive scientific studies on the benefits of almonds, it is believed that thanks to the presence of polyphenols, natural antioxidants, they are able to slow down aging in particular by fighting wrinkles. The presence of phytosterols and fibers helps against cholesterol. But, and is perhaps one of the lesser-known features, almonds for folic acid content are suitable for pregnant women. While for the richness of minerals they are effective against osteoporosis and thanks to a small amount of laetrile they also perform anticancer functions. Another characteristic not to be overlooked of almonds is that they do not contain gluten, therefore, they are particularly sought after in the preparation of foods by those suffering from celiac disease.
Never, however, abuse almonds: since they are made up of fat and sugar, they can make you accumulate a few extra pounds. In general, it is not advisable to exceed 8-10 almonds a day.
Almond milk, flour, and oil
Almond milk is one of the most popular beverages in Mediterranean countries. Thanks to the quality of this seed almond milk is a particularly energetic drink: it is a sort of sweet syrup that is obtained from almond paste, served lengthened with fresh water.
Almond flour is obtained from peeled and peeled almonds. Often the seeds are ground that cannot be easily marketed because they are broken in the harvest. However, the advantage of almond flour is that in the process of comminution and powder reduction it does not lose its nutritional capacity and its energy values so flour has become an excellent ingredient for baked and confectionery products. This flour is mixed with sugar to prepare an almond paste, which is used in particular to decorate or cover the cake, but it is also renowned for the preparation of a typical sweet like amaretti. Almond flour with the addition of sugar and water is also the basis of marzipan, also known as royal pasta.
Almond oil: the property of this fruit does not stop on the food side, but also on the aesthetic side. The oil extracted from this precious seed is in fact endowed with moisturizing and emollient properties, therefore very useful for dry skin but also against stretch marks and finally thanks to the richness of vitamins it is considered fundamental to reinvigorate.