Almonds grow on trees. The buds must go through a period of cold weather in the winter. By early spring, the buds begin to bloom in preparation for pollination by bees. Once pollinated, the nuts begin to mature inside their hulls as they harden.
By mid-summer to early fall, the hulls split open, revealing the almond shells inside and causing them to dry.
The United States' entire supply of almonds is grown in California. California also supplies about 75 percent of the world's almonds, although almonds are also grown in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Australia, Morocco and Turkey. Almonds were originally brought to California by Spanish settlers in the early 1800s. Almonds are typically harvested in September and October and have a shelf life of up to three years.
Almonds are the most nutritionally dense nut. A 1-ounce serving of almonds contains vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and fiber, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. One study showed that men and women who consumed 1 ounce of almonds daily for a month lowered their LDL or "bad" cholesterol by 4.4 percent and that those who doubled their daily portions lowered their LDL cholesterol by 9.4 percent, all while maintaining their weight.