The almond is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond seeds are edible. They are distinctly surrounded by a corrugated shell (endocarp).
The almond tree grows up to 4–10 m (13–33 ft) in height, and has a trunk of up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. They are deciduous trees meaning they fall off at maturity.
Almonds are a rich source of oil. Their oil is good for application to the skin as an emollient and has traditionally been used by massage therapists. Almond oil is acquired from cold pressed dried almonds. It is rich in vitamins E, A, D, oleic and linoleic acids. Its anti-inflammatory and its moisturizing properties make it a unique skincare product. It is also used in alternative medicine. In its edible form, almond oil is used as a salad dressing or in baking to add a nutty flavour to cakes.
Almond oil is widely known for its wealth of Vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium and zinc, which explains why it is so good for our heart, skin and hair.
There are two varieties of Almond oil; bitter and sweet.
The bitter almond oil is extracted from the bitter almonds that contain a glycoside called amygdalin which turns into toxic hydrocyanic acid on processing. Most almond trees growing in the wild produce bitter almonds that have varying degrees of this glycoside. They can have fatal consequences if ingested. Bitter almond oil does have some medicinal properties, and may be pretty safe for external application, but is better avoided due to the high risk of poisoning.
Sweet almond oil, on the other hand, comes exclusively from edible almonds selectively cultivated for their sweet taste. Sweet almond oil is pale yellow in colour.
It is a great multipurpose oil because it can be used on the face and body and even the hair. It has a beautiful silky texture to it and absorbs readily into the skin but not so readily that your skin is left dry a few hours later. It is entirely none greasy so it can be used very liberally.
Massage practitioners prefer it because of how anointing it is without absorbing too quickly and also without being greasy. It is slightly oily, which allows hands to glide easily over skin. Sweet almond oil is absorbed fairly quickly, but not so quickly that you need to keep reapplying it.
It has a lovely aroma and a lovely texture so it can be used as an everyday body oil and facial moisturizer.
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