The Miracle of Almonds
Healthy, helpful, delicious almonds
Although quite popular for centuries throughout Spain, Morocco, Greece, Israel, and the Middle East, California now leads the world in Almond cultivation and boasts the United States’ largest specialty crop for export.
A top ten nutritional food on most top ten lists (along with salmon and broccoli), Almonds are quite well-known for their numerous health benefits and medicinal value providing relief for a plethora of ailments including respiratory disorders, constipation, anemia, psoriasis, impotency, and diabetes. Almonds are a natural source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and niacin. Almonds are also known to boost energy thanks to the presence of manganese, copper and Riboflavin. Almonds are rich in fiber, high in protein, strongly anti-inflammatory, and boast an estimated glycemic load of zero. And, it turns out, Almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber & calcium. Only the best for ZEST.
SUSTAINABLE ALMONDS | The concept of zero waste now a reality. Surrounded by a protective outer hull, nutritious and delicious Almonds are grown on trees inside of a protective shell. Beginning as seedlings, Almond trees store carbon — and are transformed into electricity at the end of their lives. The shells become livestock bedding — and the hulls are used as dairy feed. Nothing goes to waste. California Almond farmers and processors have always taken responsibility for these co-products — the hulls, shells and trees — getting the most out of the resources used to grow Almonds while ensuring they’re put to beneficial use rather than sent to landfill.
ALMONDS AND WATER. GETTING THE MOST OUT OF EVERY DROP | California’s Almond farmers are committed to the responsible and efficient use of water, a precious and limited resource. Over 90% of California Almond farms are family farms, many owned and operated by third or fourth-generation farmers who live on the land and plan to pass it down to their children. Improvements in production practices and water-saving technologies have helped reduce the amount of water it takes to grow one pound of Almonds by 33 percent over the past 20 years.
While Almond farmers have made strides in the area of water efficiency for decades, there’s more that can be done. For more than 40 years, the Almond Board of California has invested in the continuous improvement of the California Almond community through scientific research — a commitment totaling $70 million to date. Current water research is fueling responsible practices and sustainable improvements across the orchard in two key areas. First, with water efficiency: accelerating use of irrigation practices and technology that maximizes crop per drop. Second, utilizing sustainable water resources: exploring on-farm groundwater recharge and diversifying California’s water supply.
ALMONDS AND BEES | Almonds depend on bees and bees depend on Almonds. In fact, the link between bees and Almonds is so important that the relationships between Almond growers and their beekeepers often go back years or even generations.
Between February and March each year, almond tree buds burst into beautiful light pink and white blooms in preparation for pollination. As the trees blossom, honey bees forage for pollen and nectar in the orchard. When the bees move from tree to tree, they pollinate Almond blossoms along the way. Each fertilized flower will grow into an Almond. After their love affair with Almonds, beekeepers bring their honey bees to different locations across the United States, pollinating more than 90 other crops and making honey.
While bees are essential to pollinate the Almond crop, the bees benefit too. Almond orchards help strengthen bee hives because Almond orchards provide honey bees with their first natural source of food each spring. And just as Almonds are a nutritious snack for people, Almond pollen is very nutritious for honey bees. In addition, honey bee hives routinely leave stronger after visiting orchards during almond bloom— allowing beekeepers the opportunity to split many of the hives to further grow their apiary inventories.
ALMONDS AND YOUR DIET | According to a recent article in Medical News Today, the following foods are the top 15 foods considered to be the healthiest according to surveys and sources across the United States and Western Europe. Understanding which foods are healthful and trying to include them in our diet could benefit the entire nation. The most important thing to remember, is that a balanced diet is the true secret to healthful eating.
First on their list is Almonds. Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin. Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut.
The Medical News Today Top 15 List: Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Lentils, Oatmeal, Wheat Germ, Broccoli, Apples, Kale, Blueberries, Avocados, Leafy Green Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes, Oily Fish, Chicken and Eggs.
The article goes on to quote a scientific review published in Nutrition Reviews, which found that Almonds — as a food — may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The authors wrote: "The message that almonds, in and of themselves, are a heart-healthy snack should be emphasized to consumers. Moreover, when almonds are incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are even greater."
Sources: University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 2014. Medical News Today, 2017.