Almonds are the new wheat

Once you eliminate this genetically-altered Frankengrain called modern wheat, the diet should center around vegetables, nuts, healthy oils like olive and coconut, fish, meats, cheese, olives, avocados and other real whole foods. This is, in fact, the diet that I have advocated in my heart disease prevention practice, as well as my online program for prevention and reversal of heart disease.

But what if you’d like a piece of cheesecake or a nice slice of dessert bread—but you don’t want to gain two pounds, spend 48 hours in the bathroom suffering with diarrhea and cramps, 3 weeks of joint pains and leg swelling, wade through mental “fog,” anxiety, and rage just because you had that momentary indulgence—as you would with wheat?

That’s why I’ve been focusing on recipes that allow you to have something familiar, e.g., chocolate coconut bread or biscotti, but using ingredients that will not generate the metabolic contortions triggered by wheat.

On perusing these recipes, you will notice that there are recurring ingredient themes. Many of the same ingredients pop up time and again. Among the most frequent, versatile, user-friendly, and tasty: Almonds.

You can use almonds as ground whole almonds, ground blanched almonds for a finer texture, ground roasted almonds, almond butter (though, for maximum health benefits, I prefer the ground whole almonds). Ground almonds allow you to recreate muffins, breads, scones, pizza crust, pie crust, biscotti, and cookies with health benefits that exceed that of whole wheat—but with none of the downside: no weight gain, no high blood sugar, no triggering of small LDL particles (#1 cause of heart disease in the U.S.), no accumulation of visceral fat, no appetite stimulation.

In short, you just have your chocolate almond biscotti or mocha cupcake and enjoy it, no health price to pay. So I call almonds the new wheat, except better.

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115 Responses to Almonds are the new wheat

  1. Wendie says:

    I love the flax pitas & use them daily for wraps & even made a pizza on one! :0). I use flax for the muffins, too. Trying to save almond meal for special occasions & meals like pancakes and biscuits, etc. Need to keep my carb count under 30-40 or I wont lose weight.
    I am on day 10 Wheat Free and feel so much better. I’ve lost 5 lbs and have no knee or shoulder pain and my mental fog is also lifting. I’ve told everyone about the book but of course they think im nuts. I don’t care! I am exctited to finally find the answer to a lifelong struggle with food/carb addiction! Thank you Doc!

  2. Julianne says:

    Hi Dr. Davis, I just heard about your book and am going to read it on my ipad. I have a few questions about Celiac. I have had testing and one physician told me I had Celiac and another said I didn’t in view of the endoscopic biopsy. Blood tests for I believe antigliadin have been negative. I have the following symptoms: Joint pain in my feet, hands, ankles and neck. None in my knees or hips. Acid reflux with actual stomach contents coming into my throat, oil floating on the water after using the toilet, constant stuffed up nose with thick mucous that does not drain. I have been tested for allergies and was told I was allergic to nothing.. I am on claritin 2x a day and Astelin nose spray and still have this problem. Oh I also suffered an ankle fracture and the surgeon said my bones were so soft he could almost push the screws through. I think the physicians think I am a nut because I keep insisting that something is not right. Is there newer testing available and also how long would I need to try a gluten free diet before expecting any results? Can’t wait to read your book. Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Julianne–

      This is the problem with much of wheat intolerance: Only a fraction of wheat intolerance–even severe, incapacitating, life-threatening wheat intolerance–will be identified by antibody testing (e.g., transglutaminase or endomysial antibodies) or intestinal biopsy. Yet you can have every organ deteriorate.

      It is pure folly on the part of my colleagues to believe that all wheat intolerance can be confidently identified with blood tests or biopsies. Simply not true.

      Until we have better methods of confident detection, you are left with one solution: A prolonged trial of elimination.

      Please let us know what comes of your situation which, by the way, sure sounds like wheat intolerance in a severe form.

      • Maria says:

        After eliminating the wheat, I was still getting mild acid reflux…found out I was in the less than 1% group of Astelin users who get the reflux…

  3. Barb says:

    Dr. Davis,
    My husband and I have followed your eating plan for two weeks now. We have both lost several pounds and haven’t been hungry once! We no longer find the need to snack. I read in this Sunday’s NY Times that a new study shows that several small meals per day actually leads to weight gain; this was the eating plan I had been following to balance my blood sugar. It didn’t work for me! Now, on your plan my blood sugar is much better. In fact this morning it seemed to be a bit too low…75. It’s never been that low. After breakfast I had a problem for an hour with a headache and difficulty focusing my eyes, getting them to work together. My blood sugar one hour after eating was 100. Any ideas about what happened?

    On another note, we are trying veggies we’ve never had before such as kohlrabi which we love now!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Barb–

      Great start!

      If you are on diabetes medications, some drugs can result in hypoglycemia. Hopefully, if true, you have a doctor who recognizes that, as you become less diabetic, you need less medication. This is a good thing.

      However, if this occurred without diabetes medication, that is odd. If recurrent, then an evaluation will be in order to determine why this happened, i.e., an inappropriate and not diet-induced hypoglycemic episode. Your change in diet may have served to unmask a problem that was, in effect, being covered up by wheat and carbohydrate consumption.

  4. Mara says:

    Hi Doc, I bought the Kindle Audio Book ( no digital Kindle book available) and I loved the audio version
    but I would like to see some lists of foods or some recipes but dont know how to get them and print them
    as I am sure the hardcopy of the book or digital version would have that option. Any suggestion how to get
    those extra bits as I would like to study them and have them handy?

    Cheers, Mara from Sydney, Australia

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Mara–

      I’ve gotten lots of requests for the “missing pieces” in the audio and electronic versions.

      I’ll have to post some of it here over time. Thanks for asking.

  5. Jessica says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I’ve just started reading your book and am finding the information very illuminating. I’d have no problem implementing your dietary suggestions for myself (and I consume very little gluten, if any, throughout the day to begin with … although we do eat quinoa or brown rice 2-3 times a week) but I’m concerned with the reliance on nuts. My oldest daughter is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, so there cannot be any trace of them in my house. That obviously rules out almond flour, coconut oil and the other nuts products used to replace gluten. She has also tested positive for a “mild” wheat and soy allergy, so she has a pretty limited dietary range. Do you have any suggestions for my family? I need to find an acceptable substitute for the nuts, as I still want her to enjoy treats on occasion. What are my options for flours if we cannot consume nuts, since potato, rice, and quinoa flours are too carb heavy? Thanks for any insight you can provide.

    • Jessica says:

      Silly me. I know quinoa and brown rice are gluten free. I meant that we are not super low carb in our house. I’m still nursing my youngest, and those carbs get me through the day!

      • Tara says:

        Ground flax can be used as a substitute for nut flours/meals! Try that out and see if it works for you.

      • Tara says:

        Also Jessica, I just found this on an allergy site:

        “Coconut is a member of the palm family, which is not related to nuts or peanuts. Coconuts are large seeds adapted for water-born dispersal and remain viable after having floated in the sea for six months or more. If your son is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, there is no reason for him to avoid coconut.” I checked with Gwen Smith, the editor of Allergic Living magazine, to see if this answer remains correct, and she assured me Dr. Watson stands by that advice.

        http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2011/03/is-coconut-safe-for-people-with-tree-nut-allergies/

        Perhaps coconut flour would be a safe alternative for you if your daughter’s allergy is just to tree nuts.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wow, that’s really tough, Jessica.

      There are bean flours, like garbanzo bean flour, that I am not terribly fond of due to carbohydrate content. But if there is simply a desire for an occasional indulgence, you might have to resort to the conventional gluten-free foods or bean flours, accepting that they are really not much better than, say, candy. But it might allow your daughter to at least share a piece of birthday cake or other occasional indulgence.

  6. Courtney says:

    This might be a stupid question:
    Can you use almond flour to replace most recipes the call for wheat or white flour?

  7. Kelly says:

    Is Almond Flour just ground almonds?

  8. Carolyn says:

    Can you substitue almond flour for regular Gold Medal flour cup for cup? Or is there a ratio of almond flour to wheat flour?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Carolyn–Not really.

      The use of ground nuts changes the need for amounts of egg, liquids like sour cream or coconut milk, and the impact of flavorings. So it really helps to experiment.

      You can start with a 1:1 replacement, but then learn from the effort. This is why I test recipes up to 10 times to make sure they work out.

  9. Nicole says:

    Just finished reading Wheat Belly and am looking forward to going wheat free on Sunday!
    You mention raw nuts in the book but I am wondering if there is any concern or reason not to have nuts roasted at home? Sorry if you’ve answered elsewhere – couldn’t find any info on this on the site.
    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Nuts are best consumed raw to reduce exposure to heat-derived glycation/lipoxidation products. This is not a huge issue, so occasional consumption of dry roasted (not roasted in hydrogenated oils, as is often the case) is okay.

  10. I am struggling soooooo much with cravings……to the point that I literally begin making something with wheat and then force myself to run water in it, to ruin it, so I won’t continue…..or getting made and partiallyeaten, almost as in a walking black out………….
    All my life I have been a BIG baker and the cravings I am experiencing are just horrible..how how how do I deal with cravings………I am not yet successful in truly being wheat free due to these relapses……HELP!

  11. Wanda says:

    I’ve just discovered this book and hoping by following it I may be able to move more freely and be free of joint pain.

    One big problem though I have an allergy to almonds. I presume I can use coconut flour instead of almond meal and other nuts instead of almonds, are there any that are better?

    Thank you

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Better, no, but otherwise quite effective, yes.

      Use ground pecans, walnuts, as well as ground golden flaxseed with some of the coconut flour. More nuts/flaxseed, only a bit (e.g., 2 tablespoons per 2-3 cups nuts/flaxseed).

  12. Caroline says:

    I was given your book for Christmas and have removed gluten from my diet on Jan 2. I have already lost 9.8lbs and have not slipped once. About Almonds though, what are the downsides to having toasted almonds over raw almonds?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      If you toasted them yourself, you are on safe ground, Caroline.

      But if you bought almonds roasted in, for instance, hydrogenated cottonseed or soybean oil, then look for raw almonds or dry roasted with nothing else.

  13. Boundless says:

    Almond watch.

    With the omega 6 and phytates issues disposed of, two other questions may arise about almonds:
    1. GMO
    2. sterilization

    It is claimed that no almonds sold as “California almonds” are GMO, and that only “traditional” breeding methods have been employed. Of course, we know from wheat what a slippery word “traditional” is. So are there any genetic risks with almonds? I don’t know. Are there even any actual GMO almonds? I don’t know. This question came up at home today because we bought a store brand of almond milk and the carton did not claim “non GMO”.

    Thanks to a sneaky, power-grabbing USDA rule in 2007, all CA almonds sold as “raw” are, actually, not. They are required to be sterilized by one of several specific methods: roasting(blanching), steam or PPO (propylene oxide red). My guess is that blanched almond flour is at the least risk of PPO.

    wiki: “Propylene oxide is a probable human carcinogen and listed as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen.”
    If an almond processor doesn’t want to heat their almonds, the US requires using PPO. The EU prohibits PPO use on foods. Welcome to the 21st century.

    We’re going to look seriously at planting our own trees.

  14. Kyla Avens says:

    Dr. Davis

    I have been reading your book from the advice of my doctor. My question to you is. I have an allergy to almonds. What flour/meal can I use in place of almond flour in the recipes. Or does the break down of grinding the almonds have an effect in allergies. I know when I eat whole almonds I have problems. I have never tried eating blanched almonds. So maybe I am allergic to just the skin.

    Thank you

  15. Tandy says:

    Has anyone experimented with the recipes from the cookbook using non-nut based alternatives to the almond flour and would be willing to share your results? My husband’s health issues are part of the reason we want to pursue this lifestyle but he is allergic to nuts. Almost all the recipes have the almond flour so its discouraging to attempt substitutions blindly. Thanks !

  16. Erica says:

    Hello,
    My daughter is allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, egg, oats and bananas. I think your book is fascinating. Because my Husband is anaphylactic to almonds, what can I use as a replacement for almond flour so all family members can be safe?

  17. Fran Prather says:

    My son and I have both had itching reactions to items using coconut, and he is allergic to nuts, so I’m wondering what to use for the recipes. Should we just use flax for everything for awhile and then see how we’re doing? I’m just worried that overuse of one item could lead to a sensitivity for that item.

  18. Liz says:

    As well as reacting to wheat and the gluten grains, I also react to almonds – I get joint pain from almonds too. I I’m rushing to the bathroom for ages if I use coconut or flax – I seem to have a very sensitive gut.
    Any ideas please? Any recipes using veggies in place of flour?

    • Barbara in New Jersey says:

      Try using probiotics for your gut. There are many posts about the 50 billion or more cfu brands. This should help your problem. Dr. Davis has an archived topic about nutritional supplements and why you need them. Drink plenty of water ,at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces.
      There are many recipes here, in the cookbooks, on the web and paleo/primal sites for the kind of recipes you request.

  19. Meredith Gray says:

    Dr. Davis, Please consider writing a nut-free version of your cookbook! So many people seem to need it. Thanks so much for transforming our minds and bellies!