Almond flour is a popular alternative to traditional wheat flour. It’s low in carbs, packed with nutrients, and has a slightly sweeter taste.
Almond flour may also provide more health benefits than traditional wheat flour, such as reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance.
This article explores the health benefits of almond flour and whether it’s a better alternative to other types of flour.
- What it is
- Blood sugar regulation
- Cholesterol and blood pressure
- How to use it
- Comparison to alternatives
What is almond flour?
Almond flour is made from ground almonds.
The process involves blanching almonds in boiling water to remove the skins, then grinding and sifting them into fine flour.
Almond flour is not the same as almond meal, even though their names are sometimes used interchangeably.
Almond meal is made by grinding almonds with their skins intact, resulting in a coarser flour.
This difference is vital in recipes where texture makes a big difference.
Summary: Almond flour is made from blanched almonds that are ground and sifted into fine flour.
Almond flour nutrition
Almond flour is rich in nutrients. One ounce (28 grams) contains:
- Calories: 163
- Fat: 14.2 grams (9 of which are monounsaturated)
- Protein: 6.1 grams
- Carbs: 5.6 grams
- Dietary fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin E: 35% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 31% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 19% of the recommended daily intake
- Copper: 16% of the recommended daily intake
- Phosphorus: 13% of the recommended daily intake
Almond flour is particularly rich in vitamin E, a group of fat-soluble compounds that act as antioxidants in your body.
They prevent damage from harmful molecules called free radicals, which accelerate aging and increase your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Several studies have linked higher vitamin E intakes to lower heart disease and Alzheimer’s rates.
Magnesium is another nutrient that’s abundant in almond flour. It’s involved in many processes in your body and may provide several benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced insulin resistance, and lower blood pressure.
Summary: Almond flour is incredibly nutritious. It’s particularly rich in vitamin E and magnesium, two essential nutrients for health.
Almond flour helps regulate your blood sugar
Foods made with refined wheat are high in carbs but low in fat and fiber.
This can cause high spikes in blood sugar levels, followed by rapid drops, which can leave you tired, hungry, and craving foods high in sugar and calories.
Conversely, almond flour is low in carbs yet high in healthy fats and fiber.
These properties give it a low glycemic index, which releases sugar slowly into your blood to provide a sustained energy source.
As mentioned above, almond flour contains a remarkably high amount of magnesium — a mineral that plays hundreds of roles in your body, including controlling blood sugar.
It’s estimated that 25–38% of people with type 2 diabetes have a magnesium deficiency, and correcting it through diet or supplements may significantly reduce blood sugar and improve insulin function.
Almond flour’s ability to improve insulin function may also apply to people without type 2 diabetes who have either low or normal magnesium levels but are overweight.
This could mean that almonds’ low glycemic properties and high magnesium content may help control blood sugar in people with or without type 2 diabetes.
Summary: Almond flour may be better than conventional flour for your blood sugar, as it has a low glycemic index and is rich in magnesium.
Almond flour is gluten-free
Wheat flours contain a protein called gluten. It helps dough stay stretchy and capture air during baking, so it rises and becomes fluffy.
Suggested read: The 7 healthiest types of bread to add to your diet
People who have celiac disease or a wheat intolerance cannot eat foods with gluten because their body mistakes it as harmful.
For these individuals, the body produces an autoimmune response to remove gluten from the body. This response damages the gut lining and can cause bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, skin rashes, and tiredness.
Fortunately, almond flour is wheat-free and gluten-free, making it an excellent alternative for baking for those who can’t tolerate wheat or gluten.
Nevertheless, checking the packaging of the almond flour you buy is still essential. While almonds are naturally gluten-free, some products may be contaminated with gluten.
Summary: Almond flour is naturally gluten-free, making it a great alternative to wheat flour for those with celiac disease or wheat intolerance.
Almond flour may help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
It’s well known that high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels are risk markers for heart disease.
Luckily, what you eat can significantly affect your blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, with many studies showing that almonds can be pretty beneficial for both.
An analysis of five studies, including 142 people, found that those who ate more almonds experienced an average decrease of 5.79 mg/dl in LDL cholesterol.
While this finding is promising, it might have been due to other factors than simply eating more almonds.
For example, participants in the five studies did not follow the same diet. Thus, weight loss, which is also linked to lower LDL cholesterol, could have varied across the studies.
Furthermore, magnesium deficiencies have been linked to high blood pressure in experimental and observational studies, and almonds are a great source of magnesium.
Suggested read: Is hummus healthy? Top 8 benefits of hummus
Although several studies show that correcting these deficiencies may help decrease blood pressure, they aren’t consistent. More research is needed in this area to make more decisive conclusions.
Summary: The nutrients in almond flour may help reduce LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. The current findings are mixed, and more research is needed before making a definite link.
How to use almond flour in baking and cooking
Almond flour is easy to bake with. You can replace regular wheat flour with almond flour in most baking recipes.
It can also be used in place of bread crumbs to coat meats like fish, chicken, and beef.
The downside of using almond flour over wheat flour is that baked goods tend to be more flat and dense.
This is because the gluten in wheat flour helps dough stretch and traps more air, which helps baked goods rise.
Almond flour is also higher in calories than wheat flour, containing 163 calories in one ounce (28 grams), while wheat flour contains 102 calories.
Summary: Almond flour can replace wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio. Because almond flour lacks gluten, baked products are denser and flatter than those made with wheat.
How does almond flour compare to alternatives?
Many people use almond flour instead of popular alternatives like wheat and coconut flour. Below is information about how it compares.
Almond flour is much lower in carbs than wheat flour but higher in fat.
Unfortunately, this means almond flour is higher in calories. However, it makes up for this by being incredibly nutritious.
One ounce of almond flour provides you with a good amount of your daily values for vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, and fiber.
Almond flour is also gluten-free, while wheat flours are not, so it’s an excellent option for people with celiac disease or wheat intolerance.
In baking, almond flour can often replace wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio, although baked products are flatter and denser because they lack gluten.
Phytic acid, an antinutrient, is also higher in wheat flour than in almond flour, leading to the poorer absorption of food nutrients.
It binds to nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron and reduces the extent to which they can be absorbed by your gut.
Although almonds naturally have a high phytic acid content in their skin, almond flour does not, as it loses its skin in the blanching process.
Like wheat flour, coconut flour has more carbs and less fat than almond flour.
It also contains fewer calories per ounce than almond flour but more vitamins and minerals.
Both almond flour and coconut flour are gluten-free, but coconut flour is more difficult to bake with, as it absorbs moisture very well and can make the texture of baked goods dry and crumbly.
You might need to add more liquid to recipes when using coconut flour.
Coconut flour is also higher in phytic acid than almond flour, reducing how many nutrients your body can absorb from foods containing it.
Summary: Almond flour is lower in carbs and more nutrient-dense than wheat and coconut flour. It also has less phytic acid, which means you receive more nutrients from foods containing it.
Almond flour is an excellent alternative to wheat-based flour.
It’s incredibly nutritious and provides many potential health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and improved blood sugar control.
Almond flour is also gluten-free, which makes it an excellent option for those with celiac disease or wheat intolerance.
If you’re looking for a low-carb flour rich in nutrients, almond flour is a great choice.