Almond Hulls May be Health Compound

Almond hulls long considered by growers to be a waste cattle feed at best may become a value added health compound.

Published on: Mar 30, 2012

Today, almond hulls are a low-value harvest leftover sold as a cattle-feed ingredient. Tomorrow, the hulls may be a new and surprising source of health from almond orchards.

USDA Agricultural Research Service chemist Gary R. Takeoka and colleagues in Albany, Calif., have shown that hulls are a rich source of natural compounds. Medical research suggests that some may lower serum cholesterol; fight HIV and certain kinds of cancer; or suppress internal inflammation associated with arthritis, for instance.

Until now California's annual almond harvest has been yielding about $1 billion worth of healthful, orchard-fresh nuts, but the waste hulls could add new value for almond growers.

Californias annual almond harvest yields tons of leftover hulls being raked up here. The hull is the tough, outermost layer that helps protect the shell—and the tasty nutmeat inside the shell—against attack by insects and disease. Early studies by the Agricultural Research Service have shown that hulls are a rich source of several interesting natural compounds that may have new applications for human health.
California's annual almond harvest yields tons of leftover hulls being raked up here. The hull is the tough, outermost layer that helps protect the shell—and the tasty nutmeat inside the shell—against attack by insects and disease. Early studies by the Agricultural Research Service have shown that hulls are a rich source of several interesting natural compounds that may have new applications for human health.

Using an array of sophisticated analytical techniques, including gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry, Takeoka's team provided new details about the identity and quantity of certain chemical compounds contained in the hulls. These included six kinds of acids (betulinic, chlorogenic, cryptochlorogenic, neochlorogenic, oleanolic, and ursolic) and two kinds of lipids (beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol).

Results from biomedical research that scientists elsewhere conducted—with laboratory animals or cell cultures as their research models—indicate that some of these compounds may have potential use in human health. For example, the medical research suggests that some of the chemicals may lower serum cholesterol, fight HIV and certain kinds of cancer, or suppress harmful internal inflammation—the kind associated with arthritis.

Takeoka's research about the compounds, published in peer-reviewed articles in 2000 and 2003 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, has led to commercial interest in the possibility of profitably extracting the chemicals. An international expert in natural products chemistry, Takeoka did the work with co-investigators at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, near San Francisco. He's in the center's Processed Foods Research Unit

California's annual almond harvest also yields tons of leftover hulls. The hull is the tough, outermost layer that helps protect the shell—and the tasty nutmeat inside the shell—against attack by insects and disease.

Early studies by Agricultural Research Service chemist Gary R. Takeoka and colleagues have shown that hulls are a rich source of several interesting natural compounds that may have new applications for human health.

Almond hulls a source of health compounds

Today, almond hulls are a low-value harvest leftover typically sold as a cattle-feed ingredient. Tomorrow, the hulls may prove to be a new and perhaps surprising source of health from America's almond orchards. Agricultural Research chemist Gary R. Takeoka and colleagues in Albany, Calif. have shown that hulls are a rich source of several natural compounds. medical research suggests that some of the chemicals may lower serum cholesterol, fight HIV and certain kinds of cancer, or suppress harmful internal inflammation—the kind associated with arthritis, for instance.