Almond (Prunus dulcis) oil
The almond tree, Prunus dulcis, is a species that belongs to the Amygdalus subgenus inside the Prunus genus, the Rosaceae family and the order Rosales. The almond kernel has been used as food for the mankind, due to its oil-rich and high-calorie content. As consumers are more interested in healthy life styles, almonds are emerging as some of the most popular edible nuts. Almonds are a nutrient-dense food, an excellent source of vitamin E, and a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, fiber and riboflavin. Recent studies have shown that almonds also contain a diverse array of phenolic and polyphenolic compounds. Almond kernel is known as a source of high lipids (44–61% on fresh weight; 20–68% on dry weight). Only 8% of the fatty acids in almond oil are saturated fats, while it is high in monounsaturated fats, which have demonstrated beneficial effects on lipoprotein profiles in the blood and ability lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The major fatty acid is oleic acid, representing 50–70% of the total fatty acid content. Other minor components in almond oil include sterols, tocopherols (mainly α-tocopherol) and squalene. The almond oil is used as edible oil, mainly as a salad dressing and in vegetable dips. It is also used in the cosmetic industry, especially in dry skin creams, anti-wrinkle and anti-aging products. Historically, almond oil has been used for its numerous health and beauty benefits in ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic and Greco-Persian schools of medicine. The bitter almond oil contains three basic components, benzaldehyde, amygdalin and hydrogen cyanide that limit its uses to external applications. The sweet almond oil contains large amounts of vitamins E and K that help skin regeneration and maintain elasticity, which is why the oil is used in many cosmetic products. Almond oil is one of the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy and massage therapy since it is suitable for any skin type.