5 Reasons to use Almond Flour for baking + The Controversies Explained
1.Almond flour is rich in magnesium
1/4 cup of almonds has 45% of your daily value of magnesium. When there is enough magnesium around the body, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax. This lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body – a natural relaxant.
2. Almond flour is naturally gluten free
An easy way to think of gluten is to think of baking a loaf of bread with it. A loaf of wheat bread rises very well because the gluten (wheat proteins) trap air bubbles – think of chewing gum. Now bake a loaf of bread with rice or any other gluten free flours. You will have more of a dense bread. Now think of swallowing chewing gum every time you eat a piece of wheat bread or a bowl of wheat pasta. No wonder side effects of gluten intolerance are cramping and discomfort. You intestines are trying to digest the chewing gum causing them to spasm. The stress caused by gluten on the intestines leaves them weak, making it very difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.
Common side effects of gluten intolerance are anemia, depression, IBS, crones, weight gain, fatigue, celiac, inflammation of the joints etc…..
3. Almond flour is low in carbs
Simple carbs from whole grain flours (and starch flours like tapioca) are metabolized very quickly in the body similar to cane sugar. Its very easy to over eat carbs from grains, especially if you are already eating fruits, starchy veggies and honey (or other natural sweeteners) on top of this. Too many carbs and sweeteners (of any type) is a big cause of inflammation and weight gain. That’s why almond and coconut flour are best to use when baking; they are both low in carbs. This simple substitute is an easy way to get rid of extra carbs. I am not saying don’t eat carbohydrates, I’m saying save them for fruits and veggies and lots of them. As well as small amounts of local raw unfiltered honey.
4. Almond flour Its a great sub for wheat in recipes
It’s easy to sub out wheat flour with almond flour to a 1:1 ration. Unlike coconut flour, which can be a bit more tricky. Now I’m not saying this will work with all recipes, but it works with quite a few.
5. You do not need processed binders when baking with almonds flour
Guar gum and xanthan gum are examples of this. These act just like gluten in the body. You will notice some recipes that are gluten free, yet are grain based will call for these ingredients. These binders act like gluten in the body causing stress to your intestines making it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients. It’s better to find different recipes that do not use these binders. After you have used almond flour in a recipe you will notice it’s ability to hold together very well without using these ingredients.
Some things I want to cover about the controversies of using almond flour and perhaps the reason why I wrote this article.
They are high in calories
Yes they are. But they are also are packed with protein fiber and healthy fats making almond slow to digest, keeping you fuller longer. 1/4 cup of wheat flour has 110 calories and 19 grams net carbs (aka sugar) 1/4 cup of almond flour/meal has 160 calories and 2 grams net carbs. Also, you can add less oil in your recipes when using almond flour, and you will save calories doing so. Where as with wheat you will have to add the oil or you will have a dry outcome.
Almond flour contains oxalates
Oxalates are found in fruits (berries), beans, lentils, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds, black tea, chocolate, rhubarb stalks, cinnamon…. As you can see its a wide variety of nourishing food. The formation of kidney stones containing oxalate is an area of controversy. If you have kidney stones you will often be asked to stay away from foods that contain high to medium level oxalates. Although, recent research studies have shown that the intake of water, protein and calcium influences oxalate formation as much as, or more than intake of oxalate. Finally, some foods that have traditionally been assumed to increase stone formation because of their oxalate content (like black tea) actually appear in more recent research to have a preventive effect. Most oxalates are flushed out of the system anyway. Antioxidants that are present in almonds like tannins and vitamin E will protect against any other exposure.
Every food you eat is going to have pros and cons, that’s life. I think it reminds us that portion control and listening to your body is the secret to good health.
Almond flour is not heat stable and undergoes oxidation
This is not true.
Almonds experience oxidation when they are burnt, rancid, or processed into an oil. Nature was prepared for this and that is why almonds contain antioxidants to protect the fat, like vitamin E. Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is not sensitive to heat (starts breaking down at 200c, 390 f) but is sensitive to light and oxygen. That is why you would not want to use almond oil because it exposes the oil to light and oxygen. On the other hand, using the whole almond will preserve the oils shielding it from oxygen and light. In addition, the tannins found in almonds also play a role in preserving the oils. Tannins are resistant to heat as well. So, unless you burn your cookies, the oils in almond flour are very nourishing and heat sable. Using whole fresh almonds or fresh almond meal or flour will ensure you have safe stable oils to bake with.
The fats in almond flour causes inflammation
This is not true.
70% of the fat from almond is monounsaturated fat aka (MUFAs) Monounsaturated fats provide fatty acids needed in the body to build cells and maintain healthy skin. They are also a stable oil and do not go rancid easily which makes them great for baking and great for fighting inflammation.
30% is omega 6 polyunsaturated fat (PUFAs omega 6). PUFAs omega 6 protect against cardiovascular disease by providing more membrane fluidity when it is preserved – like with vitamin E. A healthy body can converted omega 6 LA in to DGLA which fights inflammation.
A study was done to a group people of all ages for four weeks given a diet of no almonds, low amounts of almonds or high amounts. The results, published in March 2010 in the “British Journal of Nutrition” showed that the people in both the low and high almond groups had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a common marker for inflammation in the blood.
Almond flour contains phytic acid
Grains, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans carry this as well as some fruits and veggies. Some studies state that phytic acid enable vitamin mineral absorption from happening when ingesting the food that carries it. Almonds carry most of the phytic acid in the skins . So if you are concerned, eat soaked (skins removed), blanched, or Marcona almonds. Blanched almond flour is also available. Funny thing is Phytic acid has been shown to have a detoxing effect. Not only does in bind on to minerals but it also binds on to metals (aluminum, mercury…) and anything else it can latch on to. Cool huh!
Best Baking Results
I believe that a combination of coconut flour and almond flour gives you the best baking results. coconut flour gives you very airy light baking outcomes and almond gives you more dense baking outcomes. That is why the combo of both creates amazing goodies. Also, this will keep you from over eating one or the other flours. Coconut flour is very high in fiber so combining the two will not only give you the best baking results but will also keep you satisfied.
As with everything moderation is key. Remember baking is a luxury and a treat. Baked goods should not replace balanced meals. I personally eat a treat (using almond butter or flour combined with coconut) every day which usually turns into a snack combined with three balanced meals though out the day. These meals would include veggies (with lots of butter), protein (whole egg, fish, some turkey), fruit, fermented dairy and a serving of grains once or twice a week. In doing so, I have over come chronic anemia and beginning stages of leaky gut.
Have you use almond flour in baking? What are your thoughts on it?
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary. Nourishing Traditions. Washington DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc, 1999.
Gamma-linolenic acid, University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/gamma-linolenic-000305.htm
Adams, Mick. “Almonds have many health benefits.” Natural News. Truth Publishing Inc. , March 29 2005. http://www.naturalnews.com/006109_almonds_healing_foods.html
Mark. “Dear Mark: Nuts and Omega 6.” Marks Daily Apple. March 15. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-omega-6-fats/#ixzz2V0BKPlR2
The George Mateljan Foundation. “Can you tell me what oxalates are and in which foods they can be found?” The World’s Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=48
Singleton, Bonnie. “Almonds: Nutrition & Inflammation”. Livestrong.com. Feb 18, 2012.http://www.livestrong.com/article/555586-almonds-nutrition-inflammation/