Storia e proprietà delle mandorle

History and properties of almonds

The almond tree has an uncertain origin: according to the most reliable idea, it was born in Central Eastern Asia and was then spread in the Mediterranean area by the Phoenicians, who imported it to Sicily on one of their travels. Its flowering period is decidedly earlier than the other trees: from January to March the branches are covered with characteristic pinkish white flowers. For this reason the almond tree is invested with a symbolic and representative role in many oriental cultures, even in the Bible. In Syria and Israel, for example, the New Year of the Trees (Tu BiShvat), a Jewish holiday that takes place in January, is inaugurated with its blossoming. It is not for nothing that its Hebrew name means: "agitated / shaken" terms that recall the industriousness and precocity of the tree. For the Catholic religion, however, the almond tree has always identified the promise made by God to his people. We also find it in many heralds, where the almond branch represents youth. Finally, it was used a lot as a good omen for the family: with its flowering , winter is declared closed and spring is proclaimed and therefore hopes are on the way.
The almond itself plays various roles: it is used by theologians as a symbol of Mary's virginity, while in ancient Greece it was the divine personification of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, a symbol of fertility.
According to an ancient legend, the almond tree was born from the unfortunate love between Phyllis and Demophon, two characters from Greek mythology. The couple was divided by the onset of the Trojan War and the girl, tormented by the long wait for her beloved and the suspicion of his disappearance, after ten years let herself die. It was then that the goddess Athena, moved by the poignant story, decided to transform the young woman into a splendid almond tree. The story tells that Demophon, on his return, embracing the plant, was reciprocated with the sweet falling of the petals. And this "gesture of affection" between the two lovers is repeated every year: when the flowers of the tree announce spring.

From a nutritional point of view, almonds are great seeds for health:

  • rich in triglycerides , therefore quite caloric and with good digestibility;
  • lipids are mainly made up of 32% unsaturated fatty acids, but also essential polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 6, among which linoleic acid is present at 13% of total lipids.

They contain just 5% saturated fat. The protein intake is interesting, and therefore lends itself to being a very important food in vegan diets. There is no shortage of mineral salts including above all: manganese, magnesium, calcium, copper, phosphorus and zinc.

As for the production , once harvested they are dried and can be enjoyed all year round, but in spring it is possible to taste them fresh. Until recently Sicily was the first producer of almonds in the world, and there were more than 600 different species, which today are slowly disappearing.
The almond is rich in proteins, in 100g of product there are 580 kcal, therefore it is a true natural energy supplement and very balanced. Contains a large amount of Vitamin E, which has an antioxidant action, ideal for reducing the risk of heart attacks and fighting atherosclerotic plaque. It also contains a small amount of laetrile, an anticancer substance.

Driven by the strong demand of consumers we are witnessing the relaunch of cultivation also in Italy. Thanks to modern agronomic techniques, including an adequate choice of crops, greater efficiency of the systems, the possibility of introducing irrigation systems and mechanizing some cultivation practices, it has been possible to significantly reduce the management costs attributable above all to harvesting, and to increase the yield in almonds and the profitability of the investment.
The market requires both cultivated types:

  • the bitter almond ( Prunus amygdalus ) which is also transformed into slices and used in the preparation of some confectionery specialties such as the crunchy almond made up of sliced ​​almonds and sugar;
  • the sweet almond ( Prunus dulcis ) which is sold in shell, shelled and with or without roasting and / or salt because it represents a very popular snack especially by those who work out at the gym because of its nutritional values.


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