Almonds are the edible seed of a plant probably native to Iran which, from the point of view of botanical classification, is closely related to the peach tree. The variety from which edible almonds are obtained is the result of a selection. The wild varieties are almost all bitter and toxic if consumed in large quantities.

Roasted almonds properties and benefits

Among the properties attributed to almonds are diuretic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cholesterol properties. Studies have been published that indicate benefits for the heart, diabetes control, and weight control. The latter will seem incredible given how caloric they are, but almonds are very filling and therefore they can be used within the diet by exploiting this peculiarity.

Thanks above all to the important content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) and vitamin E.

Nutritional values of roasted and salted almonds

Among the vitamins, the content of riboflavin (vitamin b2), tocopherol (vitamin e) and thiamine (vitamin b1) stands out. In particular, the 19 mg of vitamin E contained in 100 grams of toasted and salted almonds represent double the daily requirement which is 8-10 mg. The caloric intake is 667 calories, higher than a bar of chocolate, but not the highest among dried fruit.

As regards mineral salts, the 684 mg of potassium represent a quarter or even a third of the daily requirement (the average daily requirement is indicated by some sources in 2 grams and by others in 3 grams), the 3.17mg of iron is almost a third of the daily requirement which for adult men is around 10mg  (for women of childbearing age it rises to 15mg due to blood loss with menstruation). But it is the 258mg of magnesium that stand out compared to a daily requirement which is 300mg (European reference value) or 375mg according to other sources and the 456mg of phosphorus compared to a European reference value which speaks of a requirement of 800mg.< /p>

Plant and fruit

The term almond usually refers to the edible seed of prunus amygdalus (also known as prunus dulcis). The botanical family is that of the rosaceae, the genus is prunus, the subgenus amygdalus, like the peach. And in fact the almond tree is very similar to that of the peach tree, it differs in the size of the flowers and leaves which are slightly smaller than those already small in size of the peach tree. As further confirmation of this close relationship, the seeds of peaches and apricots are very similar to almonds. The difference lies in the fruit, that of the almond tree is green and leathery and not fleshy and succulent. It is a plant that resists both heat and cold well, perfect for the Mediterranean climate, even if the very early flowering in early spring exposes it to the risk of frosts which can have disastrous effects on the already flowering plant.

There are wild variants of prunus amygdalus that give bitter almonds (as indeed peach and apricot almonds are often bitter) this bitter taste is due to the presence of amygdalin which is a cyanogenic glucoside, in other words: it's like ingesting cyanide. We're not joking, 6-10 seeds can kill a child, 50-60 an adult, yet bitter almonds are used in the food industry, keeping faith with the motto "the poison is in the dose" small quantities of bitter almonds, often mixed with the desserts are the basis of the unmistakable taste of amaretti. However, the amygdalin content is proportional to the bitterness of the taste and this makes accidental intake unlikely.

History and cultivation

The almond tree is native to Iran and neighboring countries (the oldest archaeological evidence of almond cultivation dating back to the Bronze Age have been found in Armenia and Azerbaijan which border the north of Iran), but already at the time of Ancient Greece it had been widespread in the countries on the Mediterranean coasts, therefore North Africa and the countries of Southern Europe. After all, as we have said, the plant is suitable for the Mediterranean climate and in fact Italy, which still has a quality production even if quantitatively limited, was in the past the first world producer, until the USA and Australia invaded the market with a production cost for which Italian production could not be more competitive. The USA is currently the world's leading producer.

Trivia about mandorle

Pollination depends entirely on bees, no bees, no almonds. So much so that for farmers, renting bees from beekeepers is one of the biggest costs.

A good 400 (four hundred!) varieties of almonds are grown in the world, in Italy and Spain we find even a hundred, even if the main ones in Italy are around ten. About sixty in the USA, of which about thirty in California where most of the production is concentrated.

Almonds in the kitchen

Almonds are used in both sweet and savory recipes, chicken with almonds for example is one of the most famous dishes in Chinese cuisine, but also in Middle Eastern cuisine they are used in meat-based, in the Italian tradition they are certainly more used in sweet recipes. We draw from this tradition, a dessert from the Molise tradition that does not use flour and is therefore suitable for coeliacs.

Bittersweet gluten-free almond cake

Ingredients for 6 people

6 eggs

200 g of peeled almonds

150 gr of sugar

1 lemon

to taste icing sugar

1 pinch of salt


1) Pour the almonds into a food processor and chop them very finely: they must become almost a flour, in fact, as we have said, they replace the flour in this dessert.

2) Separate the yolks from the whites and pour them into a bowl.

3) Whip the yolks of the 6 eggs together with the sugar with electric whisks. This is a very important step, since there is neither flour nor yeast, it depends on how much the eggs have been whipped that the dessert swells up during cooking.

4) Continue whipping until they become clear and swollen.

5) Combine the chopped almonds and lemon juice.

6) Mix very well to mix the ingredients.

7) Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.

8) Add them to the egg and almond mixture by making slow movements from top to bottom until the mixture is homogeneous.

9) Pour it into a lightly oiled 24cm diameter cake tin with removable edges.

10) Bake the cake at 160°C for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before unmolding. Very important: during cooking, the oven must never be opened or the dessert will collapse.

11) Sprinkle with icing sugar

Recipe source:


Data sheet

Carboidrati di cui zuccheri
Valore energetico (calorie)

Specific References

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