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Almonds are a rich source of oil, with 50% of kernel dry mass as fat (whole almond nutrition table). In relation to total dry mass of the kernel, almond oil contains 32% monounsaturated oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), 13% linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid), and 10% saturated fatty acid (mainly as palmitic acid, USDA link in table). Linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fat, is not present (table). Almond oil is a rich source of vitamin E, providing 261% of the Daily Value per 100 ml (table).

When almond oil is analyzed separately and expressed per 100 grams as a reference mass, the oil provides 3,700 kJ (884 kcal) of food energy, 8 grams of saturated fat (81% of which is palmitic acid), 70 grams of oleic acid, and 17 grams of linoleic acid (oil table).

Oleum amygdalae, the fixed oil, is prepared from either sweet or bitter almonds, and is a glyceryl oleate with a slight odour and a nutty taste. It is almost insoluble in alcohol but readily soluble in chloroform or ether. Almond oil is obtained from the dried kernel of almonds.[63]

Aflatoxins

Almonds are susceptible to aflatoxin-producing molds.[64] Aflatoxins are potent carcinogenic chemicals produced by molds such as Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.[65] The mold contamination may occur from soil, previously infested almonds, and almond pests such as navel-orange worm. High levels of mold growth typically appear as gray to black filament like growth. It is unsafe to eat mold-infected tree nuts.

Some countries have strict limits on allowable levels of aflatoxin contamination of almonds and require adequate testing before the nuts can be marketed to their citizens. The European Union, for example, introduced a requirement since 2007 that all almond shipments to EU be tested for aflatoxin. If aflatoxin does not meet the strict safety regulations, the entire consignment may be reprocessed to eliminate the aflatoxin or it must be destroyed.[66][67]

Mandatory pasteurization in California

The USDA approved a proposal by the Almond Board of California to pasteurize almonds sold to the public, after tracing cases of salmonellosis to almonds. The almond pasteurization program became mandatory for California companies in 2007.[68] Raw, untreated California almonds have not been available in the U.S. since then.

California almonds labeled "raw" must be steam-pasteurized or chemically treated with propylene oxide (PPO). This does not apply to imported almonds[69] or almonds sold from the grower directly to the consumer in small quantities.[70] The treatment also is not required for raw almonds sold for export outside of North America.

The Almond Board of California states: "PPO residue dissipates after treatment". The U.S. EPA has reported: "Propylene oxide has been detected in fumigated food products; consumption of contaminated food is another possible route of exposure". PPO is classified as Group 2B ("possibly carcinogenic to humans").[71]

The USDA-approved marketing order was challenged in court by organic farmers organized by the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. According to the Cornucopia Institute, this almond marketing order has imposed significant financial burdens on small-scale and organic growers and damaged domestic almond markets. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in the spring of 2009 on procedural grounds. In August 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that the farmers have a right to appeal the USDA regulation. In March 2013, the court vacated the suit on the basis that the objections should have been raised in 2007 when the regulation was first proposed.[72]

Cultural aspects

The almond is highly revered in some cultures. The tree originated in the Middle East,[73] and is mentioned numerous times in the Bible.

In the Hebrew Bible, the almond was a symbol of watchfulness and promise due to its early flowering.[citation needed] In the Bible the almond is mentioned ten times, beginning with Book of Genesis 43:11, where it is described as "among the best of fruits". In Numbers 17 Levi is chosen from the other tribes of Israel by Aaron's rod, which brought forth almond flowers. According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate.[citation needed] The almond blossom supplied a model for the menorah which stood in the Holy Temple, "Three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on one branch, with a knob and a flower; and three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on the other...on the candlestick itself were four cups, shaped like almond blossoms, with its knobs and flowers" (Exodus 25:33–34; 37:19–20).

Similarly, Christian symbolism often uses almond branches as a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Jesus; paintings and icons often include almond-shaped haloes encircling the Christ Child and as a symbol of Mary. The word "Luz", which appears in Genesis 30:37, sometimes translated as "hazel", may actually be derived from the Aramaic name for almond (Luz), and is translated as such in some Bible versions such as the NIV.[74] The Arabic name for almond is لوز "lauz" or "lūz". In some parts of the Levant and North Africa it is pronounced "loz", which is very close to its Aramaic origin.

La entrada de la flor is an event celebrated on 1 February in Torrent, Spain, in which the clavarios and members of the Confrerie of the Mother of God deliver a branch of the first-blooming almond-tree to the Virgin.US Department of Agriculture.[59] A 2016 review of clinical research indicated that regular consumption of almonds may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood levels of LDL cholesterol.[60][61]

Potential allergy

monounsaturated oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), 13% linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acid), and 10% saturated fatty acid (mainly as palmitic acid, USDA link in table). Linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-3 fat, is not present (table). Almond oil is a rich source of vitamin E, providing 261% of the Daily Value per 100 ml (table).

When almond oil is analyzed separately and expressed per 100 grams as a reference mass, the oil provides 3,700 kJ (884 kcal) of food energy, 8 grams of saturated fat (81% of which is palmitic acid), 70 grams of oleic acid, and 17 grams of linoleic acid (oil table).

Oleum amygdalae, the fixed oil, is prepared from either sweet or bitter almonds, and is a glyceryl oleate with a slight odour and a nutty taste. It is almost insoluble in alcohol but readily soluble in chloroform or ether. Almond oil is obtained from the dried kernel of almonds.[63]

Aflatoxins

Almonds are susceptible to aflatoxin-producing molds.[64] Aflatoxins are potent carcinogenic chemicals produced by molds such as Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.[65] The mold contamination may occur from soil, previously infested almonds, and almond pests such as navel-orange worm. High levels of mold growth typically appear as gray to black filament like growth. It is unsafe to eat mold-infected tree nuts.

Some countries have strict limits on allowable levels of aflatoxin contamination of almonds and require adequate testing before the nuts can be marketed to their citizens. The European Union, for example, introduced a requirement since 2007 that all almond shipments to EU be tested for aflatoxin. If aflatoxin does not meet the strict safety regulations, the entire consignment may be reprocessed to eliminate the aflatoxin or it must be destroyed.[66][67]

Mandatory pasteurization in California

The USDA approved a proposal by the Almond Board of California to pasteurize almonds sold to the public, after tracing cases of salmonellosis to almonds. The almond pasteurization program became mandatory for California companies in 2007.[68] Raw, untreated California almonds have not been available in the U.S. since then.

California almonds labeled "raw" must be steam-pasteurized or chemically treated with propylene oxide (PPO). This does not apply to imported almonds[69] or almonds sold from the grower directly to the consumer in small quantities.[70] The treatment also is not required for raw almonds sold for export outside of North America.

The Almond Board of California states: "PPO residue dissipates after treatment". The U.S. EPA has reported: "Propylene oxide has been detected in fumigated food products; consumption of contaminated food is another possible route of exposure". PPO is classified as Group 2B ("possibly carcinogenic to humans").[71]

The USDA-approved marketing order was challenged in court by organic farmers organized by the Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. According to the Cornucopia Institute, this almond marketing order has imposed significant financial burdens on small-scale and organic growers and damaged domestic almond markets. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in the spring of 2009 on procedural grounds. In August 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that the farmers have a right to appeal the USDA regulation. In March 2013, the court vacated the suit on the basis that the objections should have been raised in 2007 when the regulation was first proposed.[72]

Cultural aspects