Do almonds have lectins? It’s a great question. In fact, you might’ve noticed that almonds are not found on Dr. Gundry’s “Yes” or “No” food lists. So, are they okay to eat?
Let’s look at the different types of almonds (and almond products), how to safely eat them, and how to reduce dietary lectins in other foods that you eat.
Food And Diet Spotlight: Do Almonds Have Lectins?
Almonds are a beloved snack. On the surface, they’re high in protein and fiber. They also contain vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and good fats, like omega fatty acids. They’re also considered to be low-glycemic and are favored by those following many a diet – like the paleo diet, for example.1
But do almonds have lectins?
Well, in a “nutshell” – yes. However, it’s not so cut and dry. You can still eat almonds. Here’s the deal:
You see, it’s the skin of almonds that’s high in lectins. The skins are what give raw almonds their brownish color. So, most of the almonds you see packaged at the store will contain lectins.
However, blanched almonds (which will appear whiter) are skinless, so they’re the right choice. A common variety of store-bought blanched almonds are the Spanish-style Marcona almonds.
It’s important to break this lectin-dilemma down to include other almond products as well. That’s because certain almond products use the skin, while others don’t.
Popular Almond Products
Generally speaking, almond milk is made using the full almond, skin included. So if you’re buying off the shelf, you should avoid almond milk.
If you have a particular brand of almond milk you like, check the label for blanched almonds. You can also check the company website for information on how the milk is made or ask the company directly. If you can’t find milk made from blanched almonds on the shelf, you can try making your own at home using store-bought blanched almonds.
Almond Flour vs Almond Meal
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, or just seeking to avoid grains, certain nut flours can be a great idea. They’re usually high in protein and a host of other nutrients. And, almond flour is a great choice, provided it is made with blanched almonds.
Almond flour is also marketed as “almond meal” — which is sometimes a coarser product. Some companies use “almond flour” to denote a product made with skinless almonds, and “almond meal” to denote a product made with skins, but that isn’t always the case.
Good news: it’s usually really easy to see if there are almond skins in the mix — look for little brown flecks in your almond meal or flour, or shop for products with “from blanched almonds” on the label.
You’ll have to do some research here. Only a few brands currently make almond butter with blanched almonds. You should also avoid any kinds of almond butter that contain high-fructose corn syrup, honey, or artificial sweeteners.
You can learn how to make your own using blanched almonds with coconut oil or cacao butter. Both are packed with heart-healthy fats. Here’s a great recipe from lectin-free blogger Creative in my Kitchen.
Lectins And Phytic Acid In Almonds: Are The Nutrients You’re Eating Being Blocked From Absorption?
Aside from lectins in almonds with skin, almonds also contain phytic acid and oxalic acid.
Phytic acid is a natural substance commonly found in plant seeds. The issue with phytic acid is that it can impair mineral absorption in your diet. As a result, you might not get enough essential minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium, from your food.2
Oxalic acid is another “anti-nutrient” that can hinder mineral absorption.3
When it comes to almonds, soaking or cooking may be the best defense against these acids. So, let’s take another look at blanched almonds.4
Eat Nuts And Seeds, Beans And Legumes, The Gundry Way
Because of their lectin content, eating certain plant foods (or drinking milk from cows which eat certain plant foods) can wreak havoc on your gut. Plant lectins can be resistant to your body’s digestive enzymes and contribute to digestive issues.5
These foods include:
- Legumes: lentils, red kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, and peanuts
- Grains: particularly wheat (specifically the lectin wheat germ agglutinin) and corn
- Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers
- Squash and their seeds: pumpkin, butternut, and zucchini
- Nuts and seeds: cashews, peanuts, chia, and pumpkin seeds
- Dairy products: those that contain the lectin-like casein A1 protein
You’ve likely been told that processed foods are bad for you. And generally speaking, that’s true. But here’s the thing – there are ways to drastically reduce these lectins. Sometimes, plant foods need a little bit of processing to make them suitable for your digestive system.
Even our ancestors knew this. This is why they soaked, fermented, peeled and deseeded many foods before consumption. Today, these methods of removing or lessening lectins include:
- Pressure Cooking
- Peeling and Deseeding
The Easy Way To Make Your Own Blanched Almonds
When it comes to almonds, the best way to remove these dietary lectins and phytates is by blanching. This will also effectively remove the lectin-filled skins.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
2. Add raw, unsalted almonds into the boiling water. Boil for precisely one minute. This is important, as you don’t want to get your almonds too water-logged and soft.
3. Drain the almonds into a strainer, and then rinse with cold water.
4. Blot the almonds dry with some paper towels.
5. Gently squeeze each almond to loosen the skin. It should actually come off easily. Don’t squeeze too hard, or you’ll have almonds flying off the kitchen walls.
6. Discard the skins, and let the almonds dry really well.
7. Done. Now, that was quick and easy.
Eating foods high in lectins like legumes, wheat, grains, beans, certain vegetables, and unskinned almonds, can cause digestive upset in some people.
The problem is, we’re taught that plant-based foods like vegetables, nuts, and seeds are always good for us. However, some of these foods are sources of lectins that could make us feel ill or lead to digestive issues.
So if you’d like to keep California’s favorite nut in your diet, look to blanched almonds for all of your almond product purchases. A packet of blanched Marcona almonds roasted in heart-healthy olive oil may just be a great place to start.
What Are Lectins? Brushing Up on These Plant Proteins
5 Ways Your Body Deals with Lectins Naturally
What You Should Know About Grain-Free Flour (Plus Recipes!)