Category Archives: almonds
Almond flour is a little darling of grain free, Paleo/Primal, and low carb baking. It easily rivals conventional flour in its ability to produce tender and fluffy baked goods. Unfortunately, almond flour has numerous detrimental health consequences. It is important to understand these aspects of almond flour, so you can make the decision to avoid almond flour or choose to use almond flour with judicious moderation.
1. Almond flour skews perception about quantity
Get this: A cup of almond flour contains about 90 almonds! I calculated that by dividing 640 calories in a cup of almond flour by 7 calories in an almond. Almond flour disguises the consumption of the nuts.
For example, this ever-popular Almond Flour Pancake recipe from Elana’s Pantry calls for 1 1/2 cups of almond flour and yields about 4 servings (or 2-3 servings, if you have a hearty pancake appetite).
There are about 135 almonds in the entire batch, and 33 almonds per serving (for 4 servings).That is like 3 big handfuls of almonds, eaten at one sitting!
Imagine sitting down and mindfully chewing 33 almonds at one meal. After perhaps a big handful, your body would tell you “Okay. I’m full. That’s enough almonds for right now.” As you may know from experience, your body loses that perception and communication when consuming almond flour.
2. Almond flour is very high in inflammatory PUFAS
About 30% of the fat in almonds is polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 6 or PUFAs).Unfortunately, our modern diets tend to overburden our bodies with polyunsaturated fats which leads to numerous health issues.
Here are a few reasons why it is important NOT to go overboard with polyunsaturated fats.
PUFAS in suppress mitochondrial energy production. In non-chemistry language, PUFASslow down the metabolism
PUFAS encourage an inflammatory response in the body, while omega-3s generally suppress inflammation
PUFAS cause digestive issues by impairing the action of certain digestive enzymes
PUFAS slow down thyroid function
PUFAS inhibit detoxification enzymes
PUFAS deplete antioxidants in the body
PUFAS inhibit production of progesterone and androgens while activating production of estrogen. This encourages estrogen-dominancy in the body and this contributes to many health issues like weight gain, PMS, hormonal acne and more.
Polyunsaturated fats aren’t inherently evil, only harmful when consumed in excess. The consumption of almond flour is an easy way to overload the body with a detrimental amount of PUFAS.
3. The fats in almond flour aren’t heat stable
Okay, quick chemistry reminder. Saturated fats have single bonds between all the carbon molecules of the fatty acid chain. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond replacing a single bond in the carbon chain. Polyunsaturated have more than one double bond in the carbon chain.
Double bonds are more unstable than single bonds. The more double bonds in a fatty acid, the more unstable it is (polyunsaturated is the least stable, followed by monounsaturated, followed by saturated being the most stable). When the double bonds break, the fatty acid undergoes a process called oxidation.
Processing, heat, light and pressure all cause these double bonds to break. Raw (or soaked and dehydrated) almonds have their polyunsaturated fats intact, and so the only fat issues are those discussed in the previous section. But putting almond flour in a hot environment–like an oven–is going to break some of those double bonds and create oxidized fatty acids.
Why are oxidized fats bad? In a nutshell, oxidized fats = free radicals. Free radicals = cell damage. Of course, we will inevitably have some free radicals in our body. Fortunately, we can consume sources of antioxidants (like fresh fruits and veggies) to combat free radical damage. But if too much oxidized fats, like from large amounts of almond flour, are consumed, our body is depleted of antioxidants and damage to body cells ensues.
Want to know what fats are safe and healthy to heat? Check out my Guide to Choosing and Using Good Fats.
4. Almond flour is high in oxalates
I’ve already written a helpful overview on oxalates. I don’t want to repeat the whole article here, at the risk of making this post even longer.
If you are a bit overwhelmed with almond info, here are the main points about oxalates:
They are primarily an issue for those with leaky gut , gut dysbiosis, arthritis and behavioral issues like A.D.D
Almond flour has a ton of oxalates
Read my full oxalate post here.
5. Coconut flour is healthier than almond flour
When it comes to grain free baking, coconut flour is my top choice.
Unlike almond flour, the fat in coconut flour is primarily saturated fat. That means it is safe to heat and it is not toxic to the body. The coconut oil in coconut flour is a veritable superfood, celebrated for weight loss, candida control, metabolism boosting and more. While the fats in almond flour slow metabolism, the fats in coconut flour actually speed up metabolism!
Additionally, a littles goes a long way. Coconut flour seems pricey at first, but it stretches. One batch of my popular Coconut Flour Pancakes with Gelatin use only 1/4 cup of coconut flour for 2 generous portions.
Want to get started with coconut flour? First, here is the brand of coconut flour I recommend at a great price.
Second, remember not to over-do the coconut flour. I limit myself to 2-4 tablespoons of coconut flour per day, mostly because it can be pricy when consumed in abundance. But more importantly, coconut flour is very high in fiber and that is not necessarily a good thing. Please read my post, Is a High Fiber Diet a Health Hazard? for more info.
Third, it is important to start with reliable recipes when using coconut flour. Two of my favorite introductory recipes are:
What about phytic acid?
As you may know, phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that prevents your body from absorbing minerals. Almonds, like all nuts and seeds, have high levels of phytic acid if they aren’t soaked and dehydrated. But in almonds, most of the phytic acid is in the brown skin which is removed before the almonds are processed into flour. So phytic acid is a minor issue when it comes to almond flour. You should, however, consider the health detriments of phytic acid if you are using another nut/seed flour that is not made from soaked and dehydrated nuts.
Almond flour and MODERATION
Almond flour should be used in judicious moderation. Perhaps that means one almond flour treat once every couple of weeks. For example, I use my homemade Sunflour, which has the same issues as almond flour discussed in this post, for baking maybe once a month. Maybe set aside the almond flour just for special occasions. I would also suggest giving your body a break from almond flour for a month, and see if you feel… different. You may feel more energy or have less pain and inflammation. You may not. We’re all unique, so you have to experiment and discover what best fuels your body.
Do you bake with almond flour? Have you used coconut flour? Which do you prefer?
This month we’ve been polishing up our clean routine, taking care of our bodies as well as our hearts and minds, and integrating sustainable practices into our daily lives. All this cleaning has made us…hungry of course! So it’s time to talk about some clean routine snacks that are good for your brain — as well as your hips.
Although snacking often gets a bad rap, used wisely it can be a useful tool for both energy balance and weight maintenance. Adding clean snacks to your routine can help keep your metabolism revved throughout the day, provide sustenance to get you through your workout (and re-fuel post workout), provide an opportunity get more fruits and veggies in your day — and keep you from over-indulging at the next meal.
Don’t think you’re a snacker? If you can go between lunch and dinner without being ravenous by 5 p.m. then perhaps that’s the case. But if dinner time rolls around and you’re cramming in any food you can get your hands on, then you might be in need of some smart snacking. Going longer than about 3 or 4 hours without a snack starts to slow down your metabolism and skew your blood sugars — not to mention increasing the likelihood of overconsumption during the next meal.
Here are some tips to help you make smart snacking a part of your clean routine:
Make sure the snack you choose is what you want in terms of salty, sweet, crunchy, or smooth — this will help make sure you feel satisfied.
The ideal snack should be around 200 calories. Remember: a snack is not a meal.
Plan your snacks in advance. This can save you time and can also save you from making poor choices…or having no choice at all!
Try to get some fiber and/or protein to help decrease cravings more than a high fat or high sugar snack would.
Carry healthy snacks with you at all times.
Snack strategically, not mindlessly!
Partiality aside, Vega makes some mean and clean snack options like Vega One, Vega Energizing Smoothie, Vibrancy Bars, and Vega Sport Protein or Endurance Bars — all of which are highly nutritious and can be taken on the go. Other clean snacking options:
Hummus with fresh veggies
1 ounce of raw nuts = (approximately) 16 almonds, 22 peanuts, 11 walnut halves, 25 pistachios, or 16 cashews
A serving of fruit like berries, melon, a small apple, orange, or banana. Try dipping in a raw nut butter for a protein boost
A small home-made smoothie
A cup of vegetable soup
Trail mix with an ounce of nuts and dried fruit
2 cups of air-popped popcorn with a dash of cayenne pepper
Handful of SaviSeeds or sunflower seeds
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Most of us would agree that life is a busy endeavor, which can lead to lots of stress. And the busier we get, the more stress we have to deal with.
Fortunately, there is a medicine-free way in which you can reduce a significant portion of that stress, all from the comfort of your own kitchen and dining room. Here are six excellent, healthy foods that can help you lower your stress levels naturally:
Grab a couple handfuls of almonds daily. Almonds, and other nuts, are so good for so many different reasons – among them; their ability to reduce your stress level.
“Nuts are loaded with vitamin E, which boosts immunity,” says Health and Living. “A healthy immune system means you’re less likely to fall victim to that cold that’s making its way around the office, and a healthier you means a less stressed you, too.”
According to Anna Magee and nutritional therapist Charlotte Watts, authors of the book The De-Stress Diet, “Nuts are crammed with B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and omega oils, nutrients that are depleted when anxiety is high. As a source of healthy fats, nuts have also been shown to curb appetite, naturally balance blood sugar levels, reduce sugar cravings, and support the metabolism.”
Use caution; however, in terms of the amount of almonds and other nuts you consume, writes Lisa Collier Cool for Yahoo! Health.
There’s no fish like oily fish. Fish like salmon, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is the perfect dinner de-stress option. “Omega-3s have been shown to boost mood and brain function, and can aid significantly in dealing with anxiety and depression,” Health and Living says.
“A 2011 study from Ohio State showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety among medical school students who took omega-3 supplements,” Cool notes. “The researchers made this surprising discovery during research to test their theory that omega-3s would lower stress-induced levels of cytokines, compounds that promote inflammation in the body, which can lead to illness and heart attack.”
Oily fish also contain a host of vitamins and minerals – B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium – “that help reduce sugar-addiction cycles and counteract the damaging effects of stress on the body,” says Dina Spector of BusinessInsider.com.
Oh, yes – chocolate. Not that the other foods aren’t good (and good for you), but seriously, who can resist a little chocolate?
Few of us can but that’s all right because a little chocolate goes a long way towards reducing our stress levels.
“Too much indulgence is likely to keep you from your weight-loss goals, but a small portion of chocolate as a pick-me-up isn’t such a bad idea,” Health and Living says. “This sweet treat helps to boost serotonin levels, which plays a key role in dealing with stress. In a study conducted by Duke Medical Center, researchers found that lower levels of serotonin actually cause a more extreme reaction when the body encounters stress.”
How much is just enough?
“Research has shown that 40g of dark chocolate a day can help us cope with stress by releasing ‘happy chemicals’ known as beta endorphins in the brain,” says Spector. “When it comes to a treat, dark chocolate can be a good snack choice to stave off cravings for less healthy choices, while providing a much-needed energy boost without the agitating effects of caffeine.”
From chocolate to… spinach. Well, Popeye knew a little something about nutrition after all.
“Spinach and other dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and kale are loaded with magnesium, which has been credited as a major stress fighter, helping to relax muscle fibers and put you at ease,” saysHealth and Living.
“There’s no such thing as a chill pill, but some foods contain body-boosting nutrients that help soothe stressed-out nerves,” adds Whole Living, noting that green leafy foods contain folic acid, which helps “make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.”
Oranges – for sunshine in your life. Oranges, along with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red and green peppers and strawberries contain lots of vitamin C, which “boosts your immune system and fights brain-cell damage resulting from constant exposure to cortisol,” says Whole Living.
“Stress makes our body release even more free radicals than when we are in good mood. Interestingly, vitamin C helps to keep the free radicals in control, and repairs the body. Basically, it helps protect the body from the cumulative effects of stress,” adds Dr. Lee Dobbins, a physician who specializes in weight loss-related issues.