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.

Is almond flour healthy?

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 flavor 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.

almond flour in wooden bowl and wooden spoonOlgaMiltsova/Getty Images

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 favorite to bake with, it can be difficult to manipulate.

Some information on almond flour nutrition:

  • Calories: 170

  • Fat: 15 g

  • Protein: 6 g

  • Carbs: 6 g

  • Dietary fiber: 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 favorite desserts and bread is obviously always a win in my book. (Beware of these surprising foods with gluten.)

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 fiber, than all-purpose flour. A high-carb, fiber-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 fiber (3 g per 1/4 cup) and it is this kind of fiber that is believed to help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels.

Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.

Soluble fiber can also help with weight management by helping to maintain good levels of fullness until your next meal. Fiber 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 fiber 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 Practicesuggests 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 favorite 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 favorites.

Next, find out whether almond butter is healthy.

Sources
  • Market Research Report: "Gluten-free Products Market by Type (Bakery products, Snacks & RTE products, Condiments & dressings, Pizzas & pastas), Distribution channel (Conventional stores, Specialty stores and Drugstores & Pharmacies), Form & Region - Global Forecast to 2025"
  • USDA FoodData Central: "Almond Flour"
  • USDA FoodData Central: "All-Purpose Flour"
  • USDA FoodData Central: "Coconut Flour"
  • Food and Drug Administration: "Frequently Asked Questions for Industry on Nutrition Facts Labeling Requirements"
  • Advances in Nutrition: "Natural Forms of Vitamin E as Effective Agents for Cancer Prevention and Therapy"
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for slowing the progression of age‐related macular degeneration"
  • Nutrients: "Impact of High-Carbohydrate Diet on Metabolic Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes"
  • Nutrients: "A Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare the Effect of Peanuts and Almonds on the Cardio-Metabolic and Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus"
  • Nutrients: "A Prospective Study of Different Types of Dietary Fiber and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study"
  • Nutrition Research and Practice: "The effects of daily intake timing of almond on the body composition and blood lipid profile of healthy adults"