U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Agricultural Research Magazine 60(2): February 2012 pp. 22; ISSN 0002-161X


Besides yielding about $1 billion worth of healthful, orchard-fresh nuts, 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.

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).