Wednesday, January 02, 2008
All My Almonds, I Will Send to You (Sterilized)
“Research conducted at the University of California at Davis showed that a high-fat diet rich in whole almonds reduced the colon cancer risk in rats chemically treated to reduce this cancer. Other research indicated that phytochemicals in almonds inhibit tumor cell growth in culture. Specifically, the board notes, two flavonoid phytochemicals, known as quercetin and kaempferol, may be strong suppressors of lung and prostate tumor cell growth.”
During my cancer recovery in 2004, I was encouraged to eat a small handful of raw almonds daily. This will soon no longer be an option for residents of the USA, Mexico and Canada, following enactment of a new federal rule passed by the USDA, FDA and California Almond Board that now requires raw almonds to be sanitized through treatment processes that the industry describes as “pasteurization.”
As far as I can tell, the three suggested methods of pasteurization seem to be “really bad,” “not as bad,” and “well…okay, but you still need to say it.”
Really bad: Propylene Oxide (PPO) fumingation—recognized as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and banned for treating food for human consumption in the E.U., Mexico, Canada, Mexico and most other countries. In lab experiments it leads to gene mutation, DNA strand breaks and neoplastic cell transformation.
Not as bad: High heat—it degrades the integrity and enzyme structure of the nuts, but hey, at least it doesn’t cause gene mutation.
Okay, but: Steam pasteurization, which still devalues the nutrients, enzyme activity and antioxidants, (but hopefully not much more than just cooking or roasting them.)
And just to make it extra dark and shadowy, almonds undergoing these processes can still be labeled as “raw” and are not required to specify what kind of pasteurization treatments were used.
I believe that the pasteurization for organics will be limited to steam, but still required, which means that there will be no actual “raw almonds” sold, except for a few direct to the public farmstead stands in specific areas of California, which is the only state in the nation that produces almonds.
Ironically, U.S. food retailers who use raw almonds in their products will have to import from foreign sources.
It's all pretty interesting. If you want to know more, check out www.cornucopia.org/index.php/almonds