Almond kernels are consumed raw, cooked or dry-roasted, sliced, ground or whole, blanched (without the skin) or unblanched (with the skin). They are extensively used in bakery and confectionery, and as an ingredient in manufactured food products due to their physico-chemical, nutritional, and sensorial features.Almond consumption has been found to be associated with many health benefits, especially related to the reduction of the cardiovascular diseases risk, but also with effects on other pathologies such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus or metabolic syndrome.
These activities are generally attributed to the lipid fraction, where the fatty acid profile has a predominant role, but also minor compounds such as polyphenols and phytosterols may be involved. Moreover, recent studies have explored the effect of other nutritional compounds like fiber on gut microbiota or the antioxidant capacity of the protein fraction.
Almond kernel contains a considerable amount of good-quality proteins, mainly globulins, essential minerals and fiber with a low content in sugars, in addition to many phytochemicals with potential health benefits. The presence of large variability in nutritive compounds has been reported, although most pre- and postharvest factors may have a significant effect on their content. However deeper studies about drying, blanching, storage or roasting processes and genetic, agricultural and environmental conditions are necessary to clarify their influence on the quality and quantity of almond phytochemicals.