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Almond is the fruit of the almond tree (Prunus dulcis), a species of tree native to the Mediterranean region of the Middle East. The fruit of the almond tree is not a true nut, but a drupe, 3.5- 6cm long. The drupe consists of a thick, leathery, grey-green, outer hull called exocarp, and a reticulated hard woody shell called the endocarp . Inside the shell is the edible seed (nut). Normally there is only one seed present in the shell, but occasionally there are two. Shelling almonds refers to the removal of the hard shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are commonly sold shelled or unshelled. Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften and then remove the seedcoat, to reveal the white seed.
Sweet almonds are produced by almond trees with white flowers, while trees with pink flowers produce bitter almonds. The sweet almond is bigger and broader than the bitter almonds. Bitter almonds when mix with water will release cyanide, 4-9 mg of hidrogen cyanide per almond, so use bitter almonds with caution. However, domesticated almonds are not toxic. Almond is often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, or as a component in various dishes. It is also sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and ice cream based dishes. Sweet almonds are used in many pastries, desserts and cookies. Almonds are also made into almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers, and for its less salty taste. The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can be eaten whole, when they are still green and fleshy on the outside and the inner shell has not yet hardened. The young fruit is sour, and often eaten dipped in salt to balance the sour taste. It is a popular snack in the Middle East, available only from April to mid June. Pickling and brining extend the shelf life of the fruits. in China, almonds are ground and mix with milk, to make a beverage called almond milk.
Almonds are also a rich source of Vitamin E, containing about 24 mg per 100 g. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two 'good' fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol. Other health benefits include improved complexion, improve movement of foods through the colon, and the prevention of cancer. Almond is also considered a nutritive for the brain and the nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity.
Almonds may cause allergy reaction in some humans.