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Alalwan, T.A.;  Mohammed, D.;  Hasan, M.;  Sergi, D.;  Ferraris, C.;  Gasparri, C.;  Rondanelli, M.;  Perna, S. Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 24 April 2024).
Alalwan TA,  Mohammed D,  Hasan M,  Sergi D,  Ferraris C,  Gasparri C, et al. Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 24, 2024.
Alalwan, Tariq A., Duha Mohammed, Mariam Hasan, Domenico Sergi, Cinzia Ferraris, Clara Gasparri, Mariangela Rondanelli, Simone Perna. "Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 24, 2024).
Alalwan, T.A.,  Mohammed, D.,  Hasan, M.,  Sergi, D.,  Ferraris, C.,  Gasparri, C.,  Rondanelli, M., & Perna, S. (2022, November 01). Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin. In Encyclopedia.
Alalwan, Tariq A., et al. "Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin." Encyclopedia. Web. 01 November, 2022.
Almond, Hazelnut, Pistachio and their Skin

Nuts are dry, single-seeded fruits, with a combination of beneficial compounds that aid in disease prevention and treatment. Nuts’ skins are a good source of antioxidants thanks to the presence of polyphenolic compounds and other phytochemicals that can delay or inhibit lipid oxidation and neutralization of free radicals, contributing to disease prevention and treatments. Almond, hazelnut, pistachio are three very typical and common nuts.

anti-inflammation antioxidant activity chronic disease diabetes fruit

1. Introduction

Nuts are used to describe dry, single-seeded fruits growing on trees. They are generally composed of leaf, green leafy cover, hull, hard shell, and skin. They are nutrient-dense foods, widely consumed as components of healthy diets worldwide and in both raw and processed forms [1].
There are many types of edible tree nuts such as almonds (Prunus amigdalis), hazelnuts (Corylus avellana), walnuts (Juglans regia), pistachios (Pistachia vera), pine nuts (Pinus pinea), cashews (Anacardium occidentale), pecans (Carya illinoiensis), macadamias (Macadamia integrifolia), and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa). Peanuts (Arachis hypogea) are botanically groundnuts or legumes, but are identified as part of the nut food group from a consumer’s perspective. Moreover, chestnuts (Castanea sativa) are considered nuts, although they differ from common nuts in terms of nutrient profile, having a higher starch content than others [2].
Tree nuts’ production worldwide varies according to a recent statistic from the International Nut and Dried Fruits Council (INC) showing the evolution of the world’s production of different nuts. For instance, the United States (US) is the leading country for almond production (79%), followed by both Australia and Spain (7%). Moreover, China is the world’s biggest walnut producer (47%) followed by the United States and Chile, at 31% and 7%, respectively. Australia and Western Africa are considered the leading countries for producing macadamias (25%), followed by China (14%) [3].
In Western countries, individuals consume whole nuts (fresh or roasted) as a snack, in desserts, or as part of a meal. Additionally, nuts oils are added as a versatile food ingredient to commercial products including sauces, pastries, ice creams, and baked goods. The consumption of nuts has increased in recent years because they are considered as a good energy source and beneficial to include in the daily diet. Nuts have an optimal nutritional density regarding healthy minerals and contain high amounts of vegetable protein and fat, especially unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) [4]. Nuts also contain various nutrients and provide dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive compounds [5].
Nuts’ skins are a good source of antioxidants thanks to the presence of polyphenolic compounds and other phytochemicals that can delay or inhibit lipid oxidation and neutralization of free radicals, contributing to disease prevention and treatments [1]. Antioxidant activity (AO) can be detected by several chemical or biological methods such as ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP) assay, 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging activity, and 2,2′-azino-bis 3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid (ABTS) [1]. Naturally, antioxidants are nutrient and non-nutrient (phytochemicals) compounds with various types and properties. Nutrient antioxidants possess a weak AO (e.g., vitamin A, vitamin C, and selenium). Regarding non-nutrient antioxidants, they are considered much stronger in their activity, especially phenolic compounds [5].

2. Characteristics and Compositions of Pistachio Nut and Skin

Pistachio nut (Pistacia vera) is one of the world’s most popular tree nuts, belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, which comprises about 70 genera and over 600 species. P. vera is considered the only species of the genus commercially cultivated, while the other species are mostly used as rootstocks [6]. The pistachio fruits are drupe and grape-like clusters, containing a single seed covered with a soft and thin seed coat (skin/testa), the edible part (Figure 1a). The seed is covered with an inedible, smooth, hard, and cream-colored shell, which is alternatively covered by a thin and pale green colored hull, forming a blush of red color during maturity (Figure 1b) [7]. Production of pistachios is highly concentrated in the United States, with a percentage of 47% in comparison with other countries such as Turkey (30%) and Iran (19%) according to the INC 2021 statistics [3].
Figure 1. Pistacia vera L. open hard shell showing the red-purple skin (a); pistachio ripe fruit (hull) (b) [7].
Pistachio skin (testa) is the soft, thin, and edible seed coat that appears in red-purple. It is the main by-product, reaching more than 60%, with Iran producing around 400,000 tons of pistachio skin annually. Furthermore, various processing methods such as roasting and bleaching can cause destruction of bioactive compounds in pistachio skins [8].
Pistachio skin has value; although limited, it can be used in appropriate methods by different industries and fields. Testa is a rich source of phenolic or antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids (e.g., myricetin), gallotannins, and other phenolic compounds. In addition, the skin is used to prepare natural polymers thanks to its cellulose content [8]. Furthermore, it can be used in food and food processing, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries [7][8]. Moreover, the presence of various beneficial bioactive compounds in pistachio skin makes them valuable to add to an individual’s daily diet, which can contribute to disease prevention, as many studies have reported [5][7].

3. Characteristics and Compositions of Almond Nut and Skin

Prunus dulcis or almonds are a stone fruit under the Rosaceae family, and their trees require sustainable irrigation practices for cultivation and development, specifically in arid and dry regions [9]. As previously stated, the United States is the world’s largest producer of almonds, surpassing 1.3 million metric tons (MT) according to the INC statistical yearbook 2020/21 [3]. Almond nut consists of five main parts including the outer cover or hull with a greenish appearance, the intermediate shell, the edible brown skin coating, and the seed or kernel produced after the full ripening cycle of the fruit (Figure 2) [9]. The almond’s hull is the heaviest part of the kernel with a total fresh weight of around 52%, affected by the variable ripening cycle that changes according to cultivation conditions [10].
Figure 2. Weight proportion of the main structural parts of almond fruit [9].
Almond skin serves as a protective layer for the kernel against microbial contamination and oxidation. It appears as a brown leathery coating and represents 4% of the total weight (Figure 2). It contains many beneficial phytochemicals properties, comprising between 70% and 100% of the total phenols in the whole almond fruit [9].
Moreover, compounds have synergistic effects when linked with vitamins C and E, protecting against low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) oxidation and improving the AO. Furthermore, the skin contains different quantities of triterpenoids, especially betulinic acid, oleanoic acid, and ursolic acid, which have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral activities against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) [9].
Almond skins are used in various products, including as a base component in wheat flour and as coloring for altering biscuits color [11]. A recent study proposed using almond skin extract for patients with intestinal inflammatory diseases [12]. In addition, the skin is a great source of fiber that serves as a prebiotic, affecting the gut microbiome [13].

4. Characteristics and Compositions of Hazelnut and Its Skin

Hazelnuts (Corylus avellana L.) belong to the Betulaceae family and are one of the most famous types of nuts worldwide. They are ranked third in the global nut market, as its production reaches over 863,000 MT per year. The largest producer of hazelnuts is Turkey (60%), estimated at 320,000 MT in 2020/21 statistics (Figure 3) [3]. The hazelnut consists of the green shell, the hard shell, leaves, skin, and the edible kernel [14].
Figure 3. INC 2020/21 statistics for hazelnut production in kernel bases (metric tons) [3].
Hazelnuts are used in a wide range of applications with increased demands for them in the global markets. They are used mainly as a feedstock in the food industry, especially in the sweet sector such as chocolate bars, ice creams, dairy products, and coffee. Furthermore, it can be added to many other products, from cereals and bread to yogurts and salads [14]. Moreover, hazelnut oil is used in cosmetic, medicinal, massaging, and cooking products. Hazelnut also contains filbert, which is a flavouring compound added in per-fumes [15]. Recently, the use of hazelnuts in other fields has increased, where hazelnut oil is considered a source of biodiesel fuel, as its chemical content is approximately similar to natural oil [16].
Hazelnut skin is a by-product of the roasting process and contains 7.5% moisture, 8% protein, 14.5% fat, and 1.7% ash. Dietary fiber represents the most abundant constituent of hazelnut skin (67.7%), of which 57.7% is insoluble fiber [17]. Moreover, the skin has a good AO compared with other food items [18]. According to Özdemir et al., the total phenolic content expressed as mg gallic acid equivalents per gram (mg GAE/g) is 233 mg GAE/g in skin. The skin of hazelnuts is used as a coloring agent in foods because of its natural brown color [17]. Similarly, it is an ingredient in different processed foods, especially bakery and confectionery products [18]. Skins can be used as an enrichment ingredient to produce functional yogurt [19] and can be added in freshly made pasta, increasing the total fiber content and AO [20].


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  2. Ros, E. Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients 2010, 2, 652–682.
  3. The International Nut and Dried Fruits Council (INC). Available online: (accessed on 12 March 2022).
  4. Martínez-González, M.Á.; Hershey, M.S.; Zazpe, I.; Trichopoulou, A. Transferability of the Mediterranean diet to non-Mediterranean countries. What is and what is not the Mediterranean diet. Nutrients 2017, 9, 1226.
  5. Alasalvar, C.; Bolling, B.W. Review of nut phytochemicals, fat-soluble bioactives, antioxidant components and health effects. Br. J. Nutr. 2015, 113, S68–S78.
  6. Noguera-Artiaga, L.; García-Romo, S.J.; Rosas-Burgos, C.E.; Cinco-Moroyoqui, J.F.; Vidal-Quintanar, L.R.; Carbonell-Barrachina, A.A.; Burgos-Hernández, A. Antioxidant, Antimutagenic and Cytoprotective Properties of Hydrosos Pistachio Nuts. Molecules 2019, 24, 4362.
  7. Mandalari, G.; Barreca, D.; Gervasi, T.; Roussell, M.A.; Klein, B.; Feeney, M.J.; Carughi, A. Pistachio Nuts (Pistacia vera L.): Production, Nutrients, Bioactives and Novel Health Effects. Plant 2021, 11, 18.
  8. Tomaino, A.; Martorana, M.; Arcoraci, T.; Monteleone, D.; Giovinazzo, C.; Saija, A. Antioxidant activity and phenolic profile of pistachio (Pistacia vera L., variety Bronte) seeds and skins. Biochimie 2010, 92, 1115–1122.
  9. Ros, E.; Singh, A.; O’Keefe, J.H. Nuts: Natural Pleiotropic Nutraceuticals. Nutrients 2021, 13, 3269.
  10. Prgomet, I.; Gonçalves, B.; Domínguez-Perles, R.; Santos, R.; Saavedra, M.J.; Aires, A.; Pascual-Seva, N.; Barros, A. Irrigation deficit turns almond by-products into a valuable source of antimicrobial (poly)phenols. Ind. Crops Prod. 2019, 132, 186–196.
  11. Pasqualone, A.; Laddomada, B.; Spina, A.; Todaro, A.; Guzmàn, C.; Summo, C.; Mita, G.; Giannone, V. Almond by-products: Extraction and characterization of phenolic compounds and evaluation of their potential use in composite dough with wheat flour. LWT- Food Sci. Technol. 2018, 89, 299–306.
  12. Lauro, M.R.; Marzocco, S.; Rapa, S.F.; Musumeci, T.; Giannone, V.; Picerno, P.; Aquino, R.P.; Puglisi, G. Recycling of Almond By-Products for Intestinal Inflammation: Improvement of Physical-Chemical, Technological and Biological Characteristics of a Dried Almond Skins Extract. Pharmaceutics 2020, 12, 884.
  13. Liu, Z.; Lin, X.; Huang, G.; Zhang, W.; Ra, P.; Ni, L. Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe 2014, 26, 1–6.
  14. Król, K.; Gantner, M. Morphological Traits and Chemical Composition of Hazelnut from Different Geographical Origins: A Review. Agriculture 2020, 10, 375.
  15. Kornsteiner, K.M.; Wagner, K.H.; Elmadfa, I. Phytosterol content and fatty acid pattern of ten different nut types. Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 2013, 83, 263–270.
  16. Saydut, A.; Erdogan, S.; Kafadar, A.B.; Kaya, C.; Aydin, F.; Hamamci, C. Process optimization for production of biodiesel from hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, and their hybrid feedstock. Fuel 2016, 183, 512–517.
  17. Özdemir, K.S.; Yılmaz, C.; Durmaz, G.; Gökmen, V. Hazelnut skin powder: A new brown colored functional ingredient. Food Res. Int. 2014, 65, 291–297.
  18. Del Rio, D.; Calani, L.; Dall’Asta, M.; Brighenti, F. Polyphenolic Composition of Hazelnut Skin. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011, 59, 9935–9941.
  19. Dinkçi, N.; Aktaş, M.; Akdeniz, V.; Sirbu, A. The Influence of Hazelnut Skin Addition on Quality Properties and Antioxidant Activity of Functional Yogurt. Foods 2021, 10, 2855.
  20. Zeppa, G.; Belviso, S.; Bertolino, M.; Cavallero, M.C.; Dal Bello, B.; Ghirardello, D.; Giordano, M.; Giorgis, M.; Grosso, A.; Rolle, L.; et al. The effect of hazelnut roasted skin from different cultivars on the quality attributes, polyphenol content and texture of fresh egg pasta. J. Sci. Food Agric. 2014, 95, 1678–1688.
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