See also: Bitter Almond
The fruit and seeds of several other plants are known as Almonds. The seeds of the African shrub Brabeium stellatifolium are known as, African Almonds. Country Almonds is a name given to the fruit of the East Indian tree Terminalia Catappa. The fruit of Canarium commune is known as Java Almonds. Bitter Almond is a variety of Prunus amygdalus (var. amara).
A food, which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
a. Geographical distribution
The Almond is the fruit of a vigorous, deep-rooted deciduous small tree belonging to the Rose family, which grows best in areas with dry, warm summers. The plant is believed to be a native of northern Africa and the Middle East. It occurs wild in Sicily and Greece and is extensively cultivated in northern Africa, southern Europe, Australia and the warmer parts of the United States, particularly California.
The fruit is a drupe or the kernel stone fruit, resembling the Peach in its general structural characters. It is, however, much smaller, measuring about 4cm in length. As in the Peach, the outer portion of the fruit coat (sarcocarp) is fleshy, while the inner portion (endocarp or putamen) is hard and encloses the kernel or seed, to which the term Almond is commonly applied.
Almonds come in many varieties, but the 2 major, universally recognised ones are the Sweet (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis) and the Bitter (Prunus amygdalus var. amara). They appear very similar but are different in chemistry. In the Bitter variety, substantial amounts of amygdalin (or laetrile), containing hydrocyanic (or prussic) acid, are found. The bitter Almond is banned from retail sale in the US because of the toxicity of unprocessed amygdalin. Only sweet Almonds are edible.
Almonds have always been an important ingredient in Arabic dishes and Indian curries. Sweet Almonds are readily available in markets (fresh, blanched, roasted candied, or smoked; whole, sliced, chopped, or in paste form) and are used in a variety of recipes, especially for sweets and confectionery. Heat-processed bitter Almonds are used to flavour extracts, flavouring, liqueurs and syrups. The purified fixed oil from both varieties of Almonds has food uses, particularly as a condiment. Almond oil is used in cosmetics. Almonds are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin E.
Medicinally, externally applied Almond oil is an emollient; internally applied, a laxative, nutritional substitute and supplement (particularly in cases of diabetes), and a remedy for nervous system disorders such as whooping cough and spasmodic troubles.
Almond oil and paste often feature in cosmetics and toiletries.
The relationship between the levels of cyanogenic compounds (amygdalin and prunasin) in kernels, leaves, and roots of 5 sweet-, 5 slightly bitter-, and 5 bitter-kernelled almond trees was determined. Prunasin was found only in the vegetative part (roots and leaves) for all genotypes tested. Amygdalin was detected only in the kernels, mainly in bitter genotypes. In general, bitter-kernelled genotypes had higher levels of prunasin in their roots than nonbitter ones, but the correlation between cyanogenic compounds in the different parts of plants was not high. While prunasin seems to be present in most almond roots (with a variable concentration) only bitter-kernelled genotypes are able to transform it into amygdalin in the kernel. (Dicenta 2002 ref.7819 4)
2 Major allergens identified - one is heat-labile and the other heat-stable.
Pru du 2S Albumin, a 2S albumin. (Poltronieri 2002 ref.5993 8)
Pru du Conglutin, a conglutin. (Poltronieri 2002 ref.5993 8)
12, 45- and 30-kD proteins have been isolated, the latter similar to a 7S globulin and a 2S albumin. (Poltronieri 2002 ref.5993 8)
A LPT type allergen has been identified (Frauke 2001 ref.4048 8)
Almond major protein (AMP or amandin), the primary storage protein in almonds, is the major allergen recognized by almond-allergic patients. A heat-stabile allergen. (Roux 2001 ref.5731 8)
A 37 kDa protein appears to be a relevant allergen. (Pasini 2000 ref.7823 9)
Also used for flavouring.
IGE AND IMMUNE:
Allergy to almonds has been frequently reported. In particular, tree nut allergies are potentially life-threatening, rarely outgrown, and appear to be increasing in prevalence. (Sicherer 1998 ref.2362 1)
Peanut and tree-nut allergic reactions coexist in one third of peanut-allergic patients, frequently occur on first known exposure, and may be life-threatening, requiring emergency treatment. Accidental ingestions are common, occur frequently outside of the home, and often require emergency treatment (Sicherer 1998 ref.2362 8).
Allergic reactions. Asthma. Dermatitis. Anaphylaxis.
Many patients with immediate type allergy to tree pollen also suffer from intolerance to hazelnuts and almonds. Since rather low levels of hazelnut and almond proteins can provoke an allergic reaction in sensitized individuals.
Acne vulgaris. (Wuthrich 1978 ref.231 89)
Eriksson found a correlation between acetylsalicylic acid intolerance and sensitivity to some foods, e.g., nuts, strawberry, almond, green pepper, chocolate, egg, cabbage, milk and wine.
In a study of 62 patients with nut allergy (adults and children), peanuts were the commonest cause of allergy (47) followed by Brazil nut (18), almond (14), and hazelnut (13) (Ewan 1996 ref.1625 8)
Potent allergen. In a food-allergic population, 44% were found to be almond-hypersensitive (Pharmacia AB). Allergy to almond showed a good correlation to clinical history, skin test and RAST (89%, 87% and 68%). (Amat 1990 ref.1401 8)
In evaluating 163 asthmatic children with food allergy for food-induced asthma, using DBPCFC the most frequent offending foods were, sometimes in association, peanut (30.6%), egg (23.1%), cow's milk (9.3%), mustard (6.9%), codfish (6%), shrimp (4.5%), kiwi fruit (3.6%), hazelnut (2.7%), cashew nut (2.1%), almond (1.5%), garlic (1.2%). (Rance 2002 ref.7671 1)
Anaphylaxis. (Poltronieri 2002 ref.5993 8)
A five month old child with atopic dermatitis developed contact dermatitis to almond with positive patch test, positive prick test, and class 4 anti-almond IgE. Persistent eczema were correlated with application of almond oil on cheeks and buttocks. The child had not ingested almond and her mother did not report almond intake during her breast-feeding. This observation points to the problems of possible percutaneous sensitisation to food proteins. (Guillet 2000 ref.7822 1)
Nut oils may pose a threat to patients with allergy, depending on the method of manufacture and processing. (Teuber 1997 ref.1631 8)
See also: Bitter almond
The effects on iron absorption of nuts were measured in 137 Indian women. When the absorption from bread and nut meals (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts) was compared with that from bread meals, the overall geometric mean absorption from the nut meals (1.8%) was significantly less than from the bread meals alone (6.6%). In contrast, coconut did not reduce absorption significantly. All the nuts tested contained significant amounts of two known inhibitors of Fe absorption (phytates and polyphenols) but the amounts in coconut were significantly less than in the other nuts. Fifty milligrams ascorbic acid overcame the inhibitory effects of two nuts that were tested (Brazil nuts and peanuts). This is different from that found previously for soy protein, another potent inhibitor of Fe absorption. (Macfarlane 1988 ref.7810 1)
Information supplied from an abridged section of:
Allergy Advisor - Zing Solutions
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