Almond Flour – A Paleo-Friendly Wheat Alternative

Almond Flour
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Almond flour is popular paleo ingredient made by grinding blanched almonds. It is rich in protein, healthy fats, and essential micro nutrients. Since the paleo diet involves avoiding all types of grains, and with that wheat flour, nut flours such as almond flour are seen as suitable alternatives. Almond flour, in particular, is popular among paleo diet followers because it is nutritious, tasty, and easy to use. You can use almond flour for baking cakes, pancakes, and cookies while its coarser cousin almond meal works best for making breads. However, almond flour has a couple of cons which you should also take note if you are considering this flour substitute and which we will cover here. So, to learn more about this paleo-friendly flour alternative, keep reading.

What is Almond Flour?

Almond flour is wheat flour substitute made by grinding blanched almonds. It is different from almond meal which is made with whole almonds, meaning with almonds with the skins attached. This difference is mostly in taste and structure as well as nutrient profile and not so much in quality. The skins of almonds also have plenty of beneficial nutrients making almond meal much more nutrient dense. But on the other hand, almond flour is lighter, fluffier, and tastier. Which one you should choose comes down to your personal preferences. You can easily purchase almond flour in stores and online. Keep in mind that almond flour is much pricier than regular wheat flour coming at a price of around $15 per pound in retail stores. This is why most paleo followers will advise you to purchase your almond flour online as it is much cheaper.

Almond Flour

Why Choose Almond Flour?

Almond flour is a perfect wheat flour substitute for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. The flour is a paleo favorite because it helps enjoy dishes calling for flour. Almond flour also provides a range of beneficial nutrients that you would not get with wheat flour. The unique nutrient profile of almond flour is known to provide a range of health benefits. First of all, almond flour is low in carbohydrates which mean that food made with this flour will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that consuming almonds in any form reduces* post-meal blood sugar levels, excess insulin production, and oxidative damage. Secondly, almond flour is nutrient-dense and this is especially true with almond meal. By substituting almond flour, you will enrich your diet with plenty of vitamin E, folate, choline, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and most importantly – protein.

The Health Benefits of Almond Flour

But other than being superior in terms of nutrients to wheat flour, almond flour was also associated with a reduced* risk of many chronic illnesses and early death. The vitamin-E rich flour can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. This is because vitamin E reduces* markers of inflammation in the body by scavenging free radicals. In addition to unhealthy eating, inflammation is a major contributing factor to heart disease and almond products can help with that. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that daily almond consumption resulted in reduced* bad cholesterol as well as reduced* abdominal fat. As you can see, almonds can also help with weight management.

Benefits of Almond Flour

The Downside to Almond Flour

However, almond flour does come with their own setbacks. As already mentioned, almond flour is on the pricier side so expect to spend more money for your homemade cakes, breads, muffins, and pancakes. Other than that, almonds are much higher in calories than wheat flour. One cup of almond flour is made with around 100 almonds while the usual recommendation is to eat around 10 almonds daily. However, paleo dieters argue that almonds are highly satiating due to their high protein and fat content. This means that by eating a breakfast made with almond flour, you are less likely to binge eat on other food later in the day thus not increasing* your total daily calorie intake. Another downside of almond is its controversial PUFA content. Almonds, like many nuts are high in omega-6 fatty acids while being low in omega-3 fatty acids. While both fatty acids are essential for good health, a healthy ratio is considered to be 1:1 while in almonds, this ratio is 1987 : 1.

Conclusion

Almond flour is praised in the Paleo community as a healthy wheat flour substitute. Since wheat is considered unsuitable for human consumption among paleo followers, almond flour has taken the lead. The flour makes for fluffy, tasty, and soft dishes while also providing a range of health benefits. However, almond flour is considered rather high in calories. On the other hand, the satiating effect of almond flour may counteract its calorie density. All in all, it’s safe to say that the health benefits of this paleo-friendly flour outweigh any risks making it a perfect choice for the paleo foodie.

Reference

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17116708

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.