The use of almond flour in place of traditional wheat flour is growing in popularity, but before you add it to your weekly diet, it’s best to understand where it comes from and what it can do for you!
What is Almond Flour?
Almond flour, also known as almond meal, is composed of 100% blanched and ground almonds. The blanching process removes the skin, and then the nuts are ground into a fine powder. According to the USDA, almonds contain minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Many people choose to use almond flour because almonds are such a rich source of nutrients, making this type of flour better for your overall health than normal flour. Other people, such as those with Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, use almond flour because it doesn’t contain any gluten. This flour is also quite versatile in many different baking applications. The flavor of this flour can also give your recipes a unique punch, instead of plain traditional flour.
Despite the slightly higher price for almond flour, if you want to choose a healthier option for your flour needs, this is an excellent choice.
Almond Flour Nutrition
There is a notable amount of nutrients found in almond flour, including high concentrations of healthy fats, dietary fiber, and protein. In 125 grams of almond flour, there is 14% of your daily protein requirements, as well as nearly 10% of the dietary fiber you need each day. It is also a great source of carbohydrates, particularly for people who are replacing wheat flour in their diet. There is also a significant amount of vitamin E, more than 100% of your daily requirement per serving, in addition to good amounts of iron, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Almond Flour Benefits
The most important health benefits of this flour include its ability to improve heart health, help protect against certain cancers, lower your risk of diabetes, boost energy, and aid in weight loss, among others.
There is a very good amount of monounsaturated fats in almond flour, which is considered a “good” form of cholesterol and can help to prevent cardiovascular complications due to high cholesterol, such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Research published in the Cancer Letters journal has shown that regular consumption of almond flour can help lower your risk of colon cancer. In this research, whole almonds, almond meal and almond oil-containing diet were investigated. Results suggested that some of the active ingredients and healthy fats in almonds may help prevent cancerous formation.
As a rich source of healthy carbohydrates, this flour can be a major boost to your energy, rather than the basic, simple sugars found in wheat flour.
Due to the nutrient density in this flour, as compared to regular flour, it can help to fill you up more rapidly, and with better food, which can prevent overeating and help in general weight loss.
By eliminating the simple sugars of basic flour, this specialty flour can help regulate the release of glucose and insulin into the body. This is ideal for people with diabetes or those at high risk of developing the condition. As per a study published in the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal in 2011, this blood-glucose-lowering effect of almond is due to its lipid component, which creates an immediate post-ingestive response.
With nearly 10% of the dietary fiber you need every day, a single serving of almond flour can improve your peristaltic motion and boost digestive health, relieving symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.
Growth and Development
This type of flour also has a very high level of protein, which is essential for normal growth and development, as well as repair and recovery processes throughout the body.
Almond Flour Uses
There are countless wonderful uses for almond flour, as it can replace regular flour in almost every recipe. You can substitute an equal volume of this flour for regular flour, although you may need to use slightly more of your rising agent since almond flour is a bit heavier than regular flour. If you are only using the flour for flavor, many people suggest using half almond flour and half wheat flour to ensure normal rising.
Some of the most popular uses of this flour are in cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bread, particularly because of the delicious nutty flavor that comes from the flour. Making pizza crusts with this flour is also popular, or you can use it to coat certain meats before frying. Essentially, you can use this flour in any of the same ways as regular flour!
Side Effects of Almond Flour
There is some controversy over the use of almond flour, due to certain health effects it might have, such as increased inflammation, possible weight gain, and risk of toxicity.
Inflammation: There is a notable level of polyunsaturated fatty acids in this flour, which can cause inflammation if you consume too many of these, in comparison to monounsaturated fatty acids. Moderation of how much almond flour you consume is recommended.
Weight Gain: With a high concentration of fats and carbohydrates, if you eat too much of this flour, it can lead to weight gain, just as regular flour would.
Toxicity: Some people fear the presence of certain trace toxins in almonds, such as cyanogenic glycosides. In extremely large quantities, this substance can release enough hydrogen cyanide to be toxic, so always eat almond flour in normal moderation.