Is Almond Flour Healthy? Here’s What a Nutritionist Says
If you're looking to replace all-purpose flour, then swap it with almond flour, which is gluten free and has fewer calories and carbs.
People often feel the need to tell me exactly how they made whatever baked goods they have brought to the dinner table. It’s always—”Oh, I made this cake with rice flour,” or “these cookies with almond flour,” or “these bagels with gluten-free flour.”
It’s as though as long as it’s not all-purpose flour, then it is healthy and therefore you can eat as much as you want without consequence.
The global gluten-free products market size is estimated to account for $5.6 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $8.3 billion by 2025, according to a September study in Market Research Report.
This shift is due partly to better identification of celiac disease over the years and the belief that adopting a gluten-free lifestyle means ultimately a healthier lifestyle. Celiac disease is an immune reaction in the small intestine that’s triggered by eating gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and other grains.
Lots of alternative flours that are gluten-free have gained popularity, but recently almond flour has become a rising star. Almond flour is lower in carbs with a nice flavour and is also easy to use in recipes that call for traditional all-purpose flour.
There are lots of benefits to choosing almond flour, so let’s take a deeper look at the advantages and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives.
Nutrition of almond flour
Almond flour is made from blanching almonds in boiling water to remove the skins, then grinding and sifting them into a fine flour. It’s lower in carbohydrates than all-purpose flour, for example, 6 g vs. 22 g per 0.25 cup respectively. However it is higher in fat with 15 g vs. 0 g for the same amount.
Almond flour has fewer saturated fats, fewer carbs, and fewer calories than coconut flour. Although coconut flour is a new favourite to bake with, it can be difficult to manipulate.
Some nutritional information for almond flour:
Fat: 15 g
Protein: 6 g
Carbs: 6 g
Dietary fibre: 3 g
Health benefits of almond flour
Why choose almond flour over any other flour? As I mentioned before, it’s gluten-free which is obviously helpful to anyone who is celiac or trying to avoid gluten altogether.
Being able to use a gluten-free product while still making your favourite desserts and bread is obviously always a win in my book.
(Related: Healthy Flours to Bake With Now)
Contains a powerful antioxidant
I don’t know about you, but when I hear antioxidant, I want all of it. Almond flour contains vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to stop the proliferation of free radicals (think cancer) by providing cell protection.
Vitamin E is vital to a functioning immune system.
Moreover, as a powerful antioxidant, it helps cells fight off infection, according to a 2017 study in Advances in Nutrition. This vitamin also helps protect eyesight, per a 2017 study published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
May help with blood sugar control
Almond flour is also a good option for people with diabetes, since ounce for ounce, it’s lower in carbs and higher in fibre, than all-purpose flour. A high-carb, fibre-rich diet may have a positive effect on glucose levels and body weight for people with diabetes, suggests a 2017 study in Nutrients.
Almond flour has a fair amount of soluble fibre (3 g per 1/4 cup) and it is this kind of fibre that is believed to help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels.
Soluble fibre can also help with weight management by helping to maintain good levels of fullness until your next meal. Fibre also controls blood glucose levels and maintains healthy bowel function.
May improve heart health
Blood sugar and cardiovascular health usually go hand in hand. Oftentimes people with impaired glucose control struggle with keeping lipid panels, like cholesterol and triglycerides, within normal range.
Almond flour has a fair amount of monounsaturated fat and while it is higher than other flours, its low carb/high fibre profile helps to balance it all out.
Many studies are still undecided as to whether or not monounsaturated fats can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. However, some research—such as a 2017 study published in Nutrition Research and Practice—suggests that likely snacking in moderation on healthier fat such as almonds can help individuals with feelings of satiety.
When people are properly fueled throughout the day, they tend to overeat at main meals and also make healthier choices when eating.
Healthier choices generally mean items lower in fat and carbohydrates, which may help reduce the development of plaques that clog arteries.
The last word
Almond flour has many positive health benefits. It can make enjoying your favourite treats possible if you have issues with gluten intolerance or diabetes, or are just looking to lighten up some otherwise calorically dense and high-carbohydrate favourites.