Almond (Terminalia catappa Linn)
Annongu reported the world production of almond fruits to be 0.7 million tonnes with Nigeria producing 0.1 million tonnes annually in 2005. There are two types of almond– the sweet variety which do not contain amygdalin and are widely used as edible nuts and food ingredients and bitter almonds commonly grown for its oil used as flavouring after eliminating amygdalin. Amygdalin is an enzyme, which causes the hydrolysis of the fruit to glucose, benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid.
The tree bears a fruit which turns from green to purplish yellow when ripe and contains a hard shell or nut. The ripe mesocarp commonly referred to as fruit by many Nigerians, is mostly consumed by children as forage snack with the shell and kernels often discarded. The kernel is also used by many rural dwellers in southern Nigeria to fortify the local complementary foods, which are usually low in protein.
Almonds contains 10.0 mg/100mg of Phosphorus, 5.0 mg/100mg Sodium, 350 mg/100mg Potassium, 375 mg/100mg Iron, 26.4 mg/100mg calcium, and 36.1 mg/100mg magnesium (Akpabio, 2012). They also contain 187mg/100mg of phytosterols (Ruggio et al., 2005), which are associated with cholesterol-lowering properties. In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in one of its reports said, almond is a good source of nutrients such as vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), arginine, and potassium. Almonds also contain: a variety of phenolic compounds which are located in their skin and have shown to be protective agents against cancer and cardiovascular diseases, globulins and amino acids.
According to Grieve, almonds can be used medicinally for allaying acrid juice softening and relaxing solids and in bronchial diseases, in tickling coughs, hoarseness, and nephritic pains and because they contain practically no starch and being rich in protein, they are often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for diabetic patients. The skins can be used in cattle feed and in gasification plants to produce and as a useful ingredient for the control of oxidative processes in food products due to its high fibre content. The kernel can be blended into a creamy liquid with the addition of water (Almond Milk).
The nutrient profile of almonds (high monounsaturated fat, low saturated fat, cholesterol free and source of nutrients like fibre, vitamin E and Magnesium) makes them an ideal fit in a heart healthy lifestyle. Incorporate almonds in your diet today.
Azor A. Annongu, Niyi J. Ogundun, Kolade J. Joseph and Veronica Awopetu (2005). Changes in chemical composition and bioassay assessment of nutritional potentials of almond fruit waste as an alternative feedstuff for livestock. BIOKEMISTRI, 18(1):pp25-30
Grieve, 1981. A Modern Herbal: Almonds. Stedman Shorter’s Medical Dictionary
Phillips, K.M., Ruggio, D.M., Ashraf-Khorassani, M. (2005a) Analysis of steryl glucosides in foods and dietary supplements by solid-phase extraction and gas chromatography. J. Food Lipids 12:124–140.
U.D Akpabio (2012). Evaluation of proximate composition, mineral element and anti-nutrient in almond (Terminalia catappa) seeds. Advances in Applied Science Research 3(4): 2247-2252
USDA, 2014. California Almond Forecast. United States Department of Agriculture. National Agricultural Statistics Service, California Field Office (PDF) Retrieved 2015-12-08