I'm An MD & This Is My Favorite Healthy Flour Alternative (In Case You're Curious)
Alternative flours are a popular pantry staple, whether you have a food sensitivity (like a gluten intolerance) or you're simply enamored with all the creative methods for gluten-free baking. Chickpea flour, coconut flour, cassava flour—the market is practically exploding with healthy options.
Although, navigating the alternative baking aisle can become overwhelming: Are some flours healthier than others? And how does each change the flavor profile of your pastry, loaf, pancake, et al.?
The answer, it turns out, may require a bit of a deeper dive; however, neuroendocrinologist and New York Times bestselling author Robert Lustig, M.D., offers his personal favorite flour-alternative on the mindbodygreen podcast. Below, he breaks down his affinity for almond flour.
Why this MD loves almond flour.
If you're going to choose an alternative flour, Lustig recommends you find one with fiber. "Almond flour has a lot more fat in it and also has a little bit of fiber," he notes. "And it is still gluten-free, so that's probably a better choice than most [flours]."
As integrative and functional dietitian Nour Zibdeh, M.S., RDN, once told us about the best gluten-free flours for baking, almonds are less starchy than other gluten alternatives and contain a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat and protein—which makes the flour a good option for those following a low-carb or keto diet.
That's not to say you can't choose one of the other (many!) alternative flours on the market—just make sure you select one with fiber that doesn't have too many refined carbs, says Lustig. "The ones that are lowest in fiber are going to be your worst choices," he notes. Fiber, after all, helps stabilize your blood sugar response and ultimately keeps you fuller for longer—so why not add a fiber-rich nutty alternative to all your baking goodies?
Perhaps this goes without saying, but you should steer clear of this flour if you have a nut allergy—opt for other fiber-filled options like amaranth, banana, or buckwheat flour.
If you're overwhelmed by all the alternative flour choices on the market, you're certainly not alone. To make the choice a bit easier, Lustig recommends you stock your shelves with fiber-rich staples—like, say, almond flour.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.