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People are increasingly searching for alternatives to traditional wheat flour.
This could be down to a wider understanding of food intolerances, a desire to eat fewer carbs or a result of home cooks seeking to increase the nutritional value of their bakes.
Because of these reasons, and many more, almond flour is firmly in the spotlight as a ‘healthy’ flour alternative.
But you probably have some questions, right?
For example, is almond flour healthier than regular flour? How do you bake with almond flour? Does almond flour have sugar?
We have all the answers. Keep reading….
Almond flour is a fine powder made from ground almond nuts.
It’s often used to replace wheat flour in baking, cooking and sauces to make dishes gluten-free.
Almond flour is more nutrient-dense than regular wheat flour and contains more fibre and protein than most common flour.
Here, we explain the different types of almond flour, how they're made and how they can be used.1
This is the most common type of almond flour.
It’s made by blanching (boiling) the almonds to remove their reddish-brown skins prior to being ground. This makes the flour pale ivory in colour.
Blanched almond flour is sometimes labelled as almond powder or ground almonds.
Unblanched almond flour is made from whole almond kernels with the skin still on. Therefore, the reddish-brown pulp of the skin is included, creating a coarser blend of flour with more fibre (provided by the skin).
Almond meal is the same as unblanched almond flour. It basically means that the almond kernels still had their skins on when they were finely ground.
Again, almond meal is coarser than blanched almond flour and may therefore be more suitable for robust bakes.
Almond flour’s nutritional profile is pretty impressive. Not only does it contain more protein than regular flour, but it’s also grain-free and contains fewer carbs than white flour.
It also happens to taste ever so slightly nutty, making it ideal for baking bread and cakes, with many people saying it adds a richer taste than other flour.2
One ¼ cup of almond flour contains:
When you put almond flour’s nutritional profile next to that of your standard white wheat flour, almond flour may contain more fat, fibre and protein, but that’s alongside fewer carbs and more healthy ‘extras’, such as vitamin E, magnesium and niacin.
Handpicked content: Why your body – and beauty – needs vitamin E
Almond flour is packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that make it a healthy addition to your daily diet, especially when compared to the likes of standard white wheat flour.
As almond flour is made with 100% blanched almonds, it contains all the goodness of this super nut including:
Almonds themselves are rich in vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that can help minimise disease-causing oxidative damage to cells.3
100g almond flour contains a whopping 23.9mg of vitamin E – 159% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin E.4
Magnesium helps us convert food into energy and is important for bone health.5
Almond flour has plenty, with 279.0mg per 100g. That’s 66% of your daily value.6
Higher in fibre than most other flours, almond flour boasts 14g fibre per 100g, more than brown rice flour, whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour.7
Fibre is important for healthy digestion and gut health.
With 2.2mg per 100g (97% of your recommended daily amount), almond flour has lots of this trace mineral.8
Manganese is important for energy, as well as bone and connective tissue health.9
A vital mineral for all stages of life, calcium is needed for strong bones, blood flow and muscle contraction. 100g almond flour provides 271mg of calcium.10,11
Needed for cell communication and a healthy heart, potassium is found in high levels within almond flour, with around 736mg per 100g – 16% of your recommended daily amount.12
Lower in carbohydrates than other flour, almond flour is a great alternative to wheat flour for those looking to follow a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.
With just over a quarter of the carbohydrate content of wheat flour, almond flour has 21g of carbohydrates per 100g.13
Almond flour - like almonds themselves – is a rich source of unsaturated fat with 50g of unsaturated fat per 100g. This type of fat is known to have heart-protecting benefits.14
With more protein than other flour, almond flour is the clear choice if you’re trying to increase your intake of vegetarian protein.
Almond flour contains 21g of protein per 100g, which means your cakes, bread and other bakes will be far higher in protein than if you used regular flour, or even other gluten-free flour types (excluding coconut).15
Almond flour is also a good choice for balancing blood sugar.
Wheat flour, like all simple carbohydrates, has a high glycaemic index (GI) and is rapidly converted to glucose in the body. This elevates the levels of glucose in the blood – also known as our blood sugar.
Blood sugar levels that are consistently too high can lead to health problems over time.16
Unlike wheat flour, almond flour is a low glycaemic index (GI) food meaning it is converted to glucose more slowly in the body. This means it won’t cause an elevation in the blood glucose, minimising harmful spikes.17
Foods made with wheat flour, such as cakes, cookies and breads, can be made better for our blood sugar by switching their usual wheat flour for almond flour.
While almond flour is widely regarded as being a healthier flour option, there are some side effects to eating it, especially on a regular basis. We’ve listed some of the more common side effects below:18
If you are allergic to nuts, or almonds in particular, you should steer clear of almond flour due to the almond content.
The side effects of eating nuts when you are allergic to them can range from minor issues, such as itching and rashes, to serious, life-threatening issues, such as anaphylaxis, which impacts your breathing.
Almond flour is higher in both calories and fat than other flours.
Although the fat in almond flour is primarily the unsaturated ‘good’ type, which can help protect heart health, eating too much almond flour will still lead to weight gain and the associated risks over time.
Eating too many almonds a day can potentially lead to you developing allergies. To help avoid this, soak your almonds overnight and only eat around 10 to 15 almonds a day.
Eating lots of almonds could result in you taking on too many minerals and vitamins that could lead to health problems, such as sickness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation.
Almond flour has a host of health benefits, but how does it measure up against other popular flour? 19 20 21
|Flour (100g)||Calories||Fat||Saturated Fat||Carbs||Sugar||Fibre||Protein||Iron|
|Whole grain wheat||340kcal||2.5g||0.4g||72g||0.4g||11g||13g||3.6mg|
Looking for an almond flour recipe?
Here are three of them for you to try! Our in-house Nutritionist, Alexander Thompson, has shared 3 unique almond flour recipes for you down below:
For the marinade:
For the sauce:
Add the coriander seeds and peppercorns to a pestle and mortar and crush, then transfer to a large bowl.
Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and yoghurt, and fully combine. Add the Quorn, mix well and leave for 30 minutes.
Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy pan, add the cinnamon stick and cardamoms, stir until fragrant then add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes.
Add the ginger and garlic, stir and cook for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring now and again to make sure nothing browns or burns.
Add the tomato purée and stir through. Leave to cook on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes.
Add a little water to 3tbsp of the almond flour to make an almond paste, add this to the sauce and stir. Let this thicken for a few minutes.
Then add the marinated Quorn and leave it to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick just add a little hot water – you should end up with a thick, creamy sauce.
To finish sprinkle with some fresh coriander and then serve.
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Generously grease an 8-inch non-stick cake pan with coconut oil.
In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs (if using). Then gradually combine the eggs or Ogran egg replacer with the xylitol, vanilla, almond flour, salt and baking soda.
Use a spatula to transfer the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until fragrant and set and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. This should take about 25 minutes.
Cool the cake, in the pan on a cooling rack, for 10 minutes. Then invert it onto the cooling rack and cool for 20 more minutes before slicing and serving.
Slice the banana into the bowl of a food processor, or a jug if using a hand blender.
Add the strawberries, yoghurt, milk and ground almonds, and blitz until completely smooth.
Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Almond flour is a superb flour alternative, providing you aren’t allergic to nuts.
It’s rich in flavour and you can pretty much use it for most, if not all, of your baking (just watch those measurements because they will need to be adjusted!), as well as cooking.
Almond flour also happens to be grain-free, which automatically makes it gluten-free.
But there is a ‘but’…..Almond flour contains more fat, fibre and protein than most regular flour, which means it’s best to use it in moderation; although it does also mean it helps you feel fuller for longer!
There are lots of pluses to incorporating this particular flour into your diet, especially all those extra minerals and the vitamin E boost, so why not give one of the recipes up above a go and see what you make of it?
Seeing as we’ve caught you thinking about flour alternatives, want to know more about tapioca flour? Have a read of this, ‘You ultimate guide to tapioca flour + 8 top uses.’
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 3 March 2022