There is no doubt that almonds were once one of the healthiest foods on Earth; there are many health benefits of almonds. But before you buy almonds today, here is something you should know: most of the almonds sold in the U.S. have been fumigated with propylene oxide, a chemical that even the CDC has admitted causes cancer.
In 2007, it became illegal for raw almonds to be sold in the U.S. What brought about this law was an outbreak of Salmonella in Canada that was traced back to an almond grower in California. The California Department of Health Services stepped in to help this grower increase the safety of his almonds, and that appeared to be the end of it.
But a second surprising outbreak of Salmonella occurred shortly after, and several government agencies got together to mandate treatment so there would be no more Salmonella outbreaks. If you are thinking how strange it is that Salmonella would occur in something as dry as almonds, you are not alone.
To achieve a dramatic reduction of salmonella, almonds had to be treated in one of two ways:
- Exposure to heat sufficient to raise the temperature to 200 degrees
- Insertion of the kernels into a closed chamber to be fumigated with propylene oxide gas
This all happened very quickly, and many small and mid sized almond growers were pushed out of business by the cost of compliance. The result is that the once-thriving almond industry made up of many small growers has been diverted to big corporate almond producers.
As it played out, almonds sold as ‘organic’ are generally treated with the heat process to achieve a kernel temperature of 200 degrees. Those not labeled as ‘organic’ are fumigated with propylene oxide gas, as a general rule.
This means that all almonds sold in the U.S. have been treated in one of these ways and thus have lost much of their life-enhancing properties. The only potential exceptions are almonds shipped from another country, and almonds sold in small amounts directly from the grower at local markets or roadside stands.
Read: 9+ Studies Showcase Almond’s Benefits on Heart Health
The Danger of Propylene Oxide
Propylene oxide (PPO) is banned in Mexico, Canada, and all of the E.U. In the U.S., it has been banned by both the American Motorcycle and the National Hot Rod Associations, where it had been used as fuel before the dangers of its noxious fumes became apparent.
Propylene oxide is classified as hazardous to health under the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, for its acute toxicity, ability to cause irritation, and its mutagenic and carcinogenic properties.
Which Almond Brand is Best? Research Shows…
Food Identity Theft did some research on popular brands of almonds sold both in stores and online. They found that:
- Costco’s Kirkland Signature chocolate-covered almonds as well as their whole almonds are fumigated with PPO.
- Planter’s brand almonds (now owned by Kraft Foods) are heat treated.
- Diamond of California almonds are treated with PPO fumigation.
- Blue Diamond almonds vary. Sliced and slivered almonds are heat treated, while their whole-nut ‘natural’ line is treated with PPO. Some other Blue Diamond products containing almonds may use steam-treated almonds.
- Whole Foods Market 365 brand is a question. There is an organic 365 line that is almost certainly heat treated, and a conventional 365 line that may or may not be.
- Back to Nature almonds are heat treated.
- Superior Nut Company almonds are gassed with PPO, with the exception of their organic almonds sold online, which may be imported and not even subject to being heated to a temperature of 200.
- Trader Joe’s says all the almonds sold under the their name are heat treated.
There are many other nut companies whose treatment choice is unknown, and there is no way to know how almonds used as an ingredient in other products were treated.
What we Have Lost
The stringent standards now in place for almonds may protect a few people from salmonella, but it guarantees chemical toxicity for the all the millions of people eating almonds treated with PPO. The treatment imperative for almonds is a tragedy in light of the many health benefits they offer, including:
- Lowering total cholesterol and improving LDL to HDL ratio
- Protection against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain and obesity
- Stability of blood sugar levels and prevention of hypoglycemia
- Provision of high amounts of magnesium, the mineral in which many Americans are deficient
- Improvement of digestive health through prebiotic action that encourages beneficial gut flora to flourish
- Abundance of trace minerals that are essential co-factors for production of superoxide dismutase (SOD) a powerful antioxidant made in the mitochondria
- B vitamins necessary for recycling glutathione, another antioxidant made in the body
The bottom line? Reasons that made the almond a premiere nut may no longer exist. Maybe it’s time to get to know other nuts that have not yet felt the heavy hand of government. (Here are some health benefits of pistachios!)
10 thoughts on “Have You Discovered the Dirty Little Secret of Almonds?”
wow,our gov and their convenient “outbreaks” requiring immediate mandatory purchase and use of chemical industry toxins ,while it took them 40 years and the deaths of entire communities to figure out asbestos wasnt a real smart thing to make us breath.hundreds of thousands reporting immediate and permanent harm from smartmeters and absolute harm to all creatures with living cells immediately following deployment ,vaccines causing far more deaths and disabilities than the “outbreaks” they purport to protect from,mercury amalgam fillings causing mental illness and chronic crippling disease accross the board ,yet they can trace a salmonella “outbreak” from a california almond grower clear to canada and remedy the problem effective immediately with the “aid” of the petrol chemical industry …how convenient ,what “trustworthy ” and “brilliant science” we have not to mention and absolute efficient work in protecting life here …from local non corporate business …right?
hmmm, add a pinch of Salmonella &CCO acts as a supercharger:’Propylene oxide has been found to be a direct-acting mutagen(i.e., it does not require metabolic activation) in Salmonella and Escherichia coli assays. ‘http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/89-111/ yikes! Not good news for the masses.
Ya know, I am totally pro-organic, and a mentally-ill pro-health believer, and I also drink Almond milk instead of “nasty-a**” modern cow’s milk.
First of all, even though propylene oxide may be a nasty fumigant. there’s no way it can cause almonds to be contaminated by salmonella.
This is totally two separate things.
Sorry, but this report confuses instead of “enlightens”.
the propylene oxide gas is used to prevent salmonella. this article never said it caused the contamination
reading comprehension is not your forte
So, this is crappy news. What about almond milk? (The kind without carrageenan in it, of course)
Does anyone know if almonds sold in the shell from the US are fumigated?
The EPA has estimated that, if an individual were to be continuously exposed to propylene oxide at an average of 0.3 μg/m over his or her entire lifetime, that person would theoretically have no more than a one-in-a-million increased chance of developing cancer as a direct result. Only acute exposures are known to be a risk. If you live your live worrying about one in a million chances, you should never drive, walk or bicycle on a public road again….and you’ll starve.
It’s 1 more RISK added to the Mixing bowl of Risks & toxins. Combined in total, as we accumulate toxins it’s NOT worth it. No Thanks. Some of us are finding via updated genetic tests no wonder we can’t detox very well. WE have to be careful. I’ll choose less risky foods. Heating it damages the fat too so it can oxidize too = inflammation.
I don’t see any sources cited for this article. Am I missing them in all the ads or are they not listed? How can we verify this article is reputable if we can’t see your sources? I’d love to research this more if you could be so kind and post them. Thanks.