There are two types of almond, sweet and bitter. We use sweet almonds to make sweet almond oil.
The almond oil is a lightweight, golden-brown oil which is extracted from sweet almond nuts. The oil from bitter almond nuts on the other hand, are extremely poisonous and should be avoided. Selection of the sweet type, from the many bitter types in wild, marked the beginning of almond domestication. How humans selected the sweet type remains a mystery.
Half of the weight of the sweet almond nut itself comprises of the oil and therefore can be extracted in large amounts. In its pure form, it has little to no odour and has a faint, nutty scent.
We obtain almond oil by cold-pressing the kernels. Ordinarily, heat would be applied, thus yielding a higher quantity. In cold-pressing, however, it is extracted at cooler temperatures and yields oil of a much higher quality.
Almonds are a rich source of oil. Almonds contain approximately 44% oils, of which 62% is monounsaturated oleic acid, 29% islinoleic acid, and 9% is saturated fatty acid.
Origin and history
The almond is native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California, United States.
Almond oil has been an integral part of traditional and ancient medicines. It was quite popular in Greece and Italy long before the Christian era. In ancient medicines, they were quite valued for the purpose of preventing intoxication. During the middle ages, they became an important trade which was very popular in Central Europe. Almonds were generally grown in the countries bordering the Mediterranean.
Nutrition & health benefits
- Almond oil is rich in vitamin E, which is a powerful anti-oxidant and an essential fat-soluble vitamin, hydrates and moisturizes the skin and has been used as a treatment for itchy and dry skin.
- contains phytosterols that helps in inhibiting cholesterol absorption and may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
- contains high amounts of monounsaturated fats and some amounts of polyunsaturated fats and both of them are considered as “good fats” and can help to reduce risk of heart disease.
- It is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids that are good for hair, skin as well as for the brain.
- It has a soothing scent and can have calming effects that may help reduce stress levels.
- As an emollient and a moisturizer The oil is easy to apply and keeps the skin moisturized for a relatively long time.
- As an anti-aging agent Being a rich source of antioxidants, the almond oil is effective at fading and removing fine lines and wrinkles on the face.
- As a massage oil The oil has been a favourite for many massage therapists because of its ideal absorption rate into the skin.
- Relieves itch and scalp inflammation It reduces inflammation caused by infections and aids in the healing process.
- Strengthens the hair It provides essential minerals for normal and healthy hair growth, grows thicker and stronger.
- Controls hair loss It contains magnesium, zinc, potassium, vitamin E which are essential for healthy hair
- In making of soap & other cosmetics
- For Culinary Purposes It gives food a pleasant, nutty taste when added. Besides that, the almond oil can also regulate healthy digestion by acting as a weak laxative.