Nut And Seed Flours

My gripe is with the excessive use of alternative flours we use – though it is true that any flour is better than wheat flour. Nut and seed flours on a daily basis, or too many nuts and seeds, create an omega-6 to omega-3 imbalance that, in turn, causes the body to become inflamed and often causes weight gain into the bargain. While omega-6 fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids, are essential fatty acids, we are tempted to have far too many sources of omega-6 fatty acids in our diet – most of which come from nuts and seeds and, if you know no better, seed oils.

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The body needs a delicate balance of a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 but the ratio for most people is somewhere from 20:1 right up to 50:1. This creates a very inflamed body and dysregulates everything from lipid profiles to immunity. Added to this is the problem that ready-ground nut and seed flours (especially seed flours) oxidise within a few minutes of grinding, which makes them even more inflammatory. We see people making seed and nut versions of breakfast cereal as it’s difficult to break the ‘cereal mentality’ but you need healthy animal protein and fat with vegetables – not just nuts and seeds ground up with a blob of yoghurt. I can’t stress enough the importance of eating a proper meal.

Substituting one form of cereal for another, although ‘healthier’ in the sense that there are no added sugars, won’t nourish the body, and too many seeds and nuts could lead to nutrient depletion. Fibre is absolutely essential in fairly large amounts but too much from seed flours not only upsets the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and inflames the body, it also binds an awful lot of your nutrients too! If the nuts and seeds are not activated, they contain large amounts of antinutrients that ‘steal’ our own nutrients. A cup of almond flour is made from a lot of almonds. Have you ever counted them before putting them into a coffee grinder? You could end up eating a cupcake with many more than you would usually eat in a sitting.

While PUFAs aren’t ‘evil’ in tiny amounts, when eaten on a regular basis they are. This applies to all seed and nut flours, though less so to macadamia flour. PUFAs are also not very heat stable and they oxidise (think ‘rust’) quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy fresh nuts and seeds and grind them yourself. Nuts and seeds are high in enzyme inhibitors. They create digestive problems because they prevent our enzymes from fulfilling their purpose. The healthiest way to eat nuts or seeds is to soak them first, then dehydrate them to destroy most of the enzyme inhibitors.

This process is called activation. Phytic acid is one such antinutrient, which is found in varying amounts in all nuts and seeds, and almonds have relatively high levels if they are not activated. Therefore limit your intake of any kind of nut or seed. What about coconut f lour? This is a much healthier form of nut flour. The fat present is saturated, not PUFA, which is a huge difference as this is stable fat that’s safe to heat and nontoxic to the body. You should not overdo coconut flour either as even this is not a staple food, it’s just a substitute flour for baking and cooking.

I am horrified at what passes as ‘Banting friendly’ and other low-carb associated fare; 98% of it is not low carb at all, and contains seed oils, chemicals, several types of sugar, and everything from glutinous grains right up to wheat. Don’t be misled: learn to read labels and, better still, make your own food from scratch, from whole, real ingredients. Save treats for really special occasions – and once a week is not a special occasion! On the other hand, ‘treating’ yourself to really fresh salads, vegetables, grass-fed meat and health fats is allowed at every single meal!

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