Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is there cyanide in almonds or am I just paranoid

Someone, somewhere (OK, it was probably on the Pecanbread e-mail list) mentioned that cyanide was present in some almonds.

Well, you know the research junkie can't let THAT comment slide!

So I went checking around. The almond wiki page mentions that wild almonds used to have cyanide, but apparently there is a common mutation that causes them not to have cyanide.


But then I found another page that said sweet almonds are OK, but bitter almonds are the bad ones.

Also, it says, that when bitter almonds are used for food, the cyanide is removed:

Amygdalin is hydrolyzed to yield glucose, benzaldehyde, and hydrocyanic acid. The production of cyanide defines cyanogenic glycosides. Enzymatic release of cyanide can occur in the presence of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme found in the seeds and in the human intestine. 6 When the cyanide component is removed, the resulting oil is referred to as bitter almond oil and consists mostly of benzaldehyde. This oil is toxic when consumed in large amounts.

OK, so, what the hell is benzaldehyde? Doesn't sound good.

Oh, wiki saves the day again!

While it is commonly employed as a commercial food flavourant (almond flavour) or industrial solvent, benzaldehyde is used chiefly in the synthesis of other organic compounds, ranging from pharmaceuticals to plastic additives. It is also an important intermediate for the processing of perfume and flavouring compounds and in the preparation of certain aniline dyes.


So. Guess I should avoid that stuff...OH WAIT.

My little bottle of Nielsen Massey Almond Extract has... bitter almond oil.


Well, that's going in the garbage then. Gold standard of flavor, my butt. Rar.