Many on the TQI diet use almond flour. Recently, I have been getting requests to respond to a blog suggesting we should avoid almond flour. Here are my responses to the 5 reasons stated for giving up almond flour:
1. Almond flour causes us to overeat almonds.
When we puree, grind, juice, dry, or cook our food, we definitely change its volume and often its water and fiber content as well. It certainly would be easier to avoid overeating if we only ate whole, raw foods but most of us are simply not going to do that. In fact, the best way to lose weight may well be to make our food bland and unpalatable, but we are not going to do that, at least not on purpose. Instead, we avoid eating excessive quantities by always eating proportionately, the TQI way. Even our breakfast muffin is best eaten with some fresh fruit, despite having an equal amount of cooked and/or pureed banana and sweet potato. On occasion, an almond waffle or pancake likely will provide more almonds than we might eat in raw form. But, given that we always eat almonds (in whatever form) with plenty of fruits and vegetables, we simply need not worry about overeating almonds when we use almond flour.
2. Almond flour is very high in Omega-6s
Almost all nuts are higher in omega-6s than omega-3s, and this could create an inflammatory imbalance. That is one of the main reasons why we never eat nuts without a proportionate amount of fruits and vegetables, emphasizing berries and leafy greens. Many nutritious and satisfying foods do not have a “perfect” 6:3 ratio but that does not mean they do not have other important benefits. Nuts promote heart health, they are a good source of minerals, and most people really enjoy them. Rather than limit or avoid nuts, we simply eat them proportionately while making sure that our overall diet has a good balance of omega 3 foods.
3. The fats in almond flour are not heat stable
When we heat animal products, their saturated cholesterol is oxidized into oxysterols. Oxysterols are found in atherosclerotic plaque and some say that while cholesterol is not a problem for heart health, oxysterols are. Unsaturated plant fats are much less heat stable than saturated fats. Heat will oxidize them into POPs that theoretically might also play a role in atherosclerosis. But when we heat plant foods, as distinct from isolated plant oils, they do not form many POPs and those formed are not well absorbed. As a result, POPs are not considered to be much of a problem. Moreover, flax, a seed very high in heat fragile omega 3s, when used in whole, ground form is quite heat stable and increases omega 3 blood levels. Similarly, the omega 3s in fish and walnuts are not much damaged in cooking. In contrast, flax or fish oil should not be heated because the protective compounds have been lost in the extraction process. All plant foods provide fats that in a test tube are not heat stable but that does not mean that we must eat these foods only in raw form.
4. Almond flour is high in enzyme inhibitors
Almonds (and many other foods) contain oxalates and phytates, often referred to as anti-nutrients. Oxalates can precipitate as kidney stones and many “stone formers” are put on a preventative low oxalate diet that eliminates spinach, rhubarb, nuts and seeds, potatoes and yams, legumes, chocolate, most grains, and, as well, cinnamon and turmeric supplements. Most find this a tough diet to follow. Other researchers reason that kidney stones usually result when people are dehydrated and eating too much dairy, fish, meat, and too many fructose-containing foods. Some studies suggest that the amounts of oxalates absorbed when eaten as part of a healthy diet are too small to cause the amount of urinary oxalates in stone formers. Other studies show that as we eat more oxalates, we host more oxalate-metabolizing microbes that in turn prevent us from absorbing those oxalates.
As well, both phytates and oxalates have the ability to bind to essential minerals, raising the concern that eating foods rich in them, such as almonds, will lead to mineral deficiency. Studies, however, are clear that, if part of a healthy diet, both phytates and oxalates enhance the growth of beneficial microbes that prevent those negative effects. In addition, phytates have some cancer preventing properties and should not be viewed as strictly anti-nutrient.
5. Coconut flour is healthier
Finally, the author suggests that we use coconut flour instead of almond flour. Her main argument is that saturated coconut fats are more heat stable. As mentioned above, heat stability is not an issue when using almond flour. Personally, I often find coconut flour too drying to easily substitute for other flours. Ultimately, when it comes to almonds, if they agree with you and you like them, eat them – even in the form of almond flour. But be sure to do so in the context of a proportionate diet rich in leafy greens and berries.
The blog discussed is (http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-almond-flour/).
Photograph: Blanched almond flour & the gluten free almond cookbook by Julie Magro
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