Raw Vs. Roasted Nuts - What Are the Healthiest Nuts to Eat?
Nuts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Packed with nutrients like fats, fiber, and protein, they’re the perfect on-the-go snack and a delicious addition to almost any dish. But what are the healthiest nuts to eat? Raw or roasted?
Many people have this dilemma when it comes to buying nuts. While you might think their only difference is the heating process, you’ll be surprised to know that there is much more to it than that. In this article, we will compare raw vs. roasted nuts so you can decide which one to purchase.
The Roasting Process
Nuts are roasted to create a slightly enhanced flavor and a better crunch. However, the roasting process makes structural changes to the nuts that may alter their benefits.
If you’re wondering what nuts are the healthiest to eat, you should learn more about roasting. Most nuts, except for pistachios, are roasted without their shells using one of these two methods:
1. Dry Roasting
Nuts are roasted without oil or water with constant stirring to heat each nut evenly.
2. Oil Roasting
Nuts are roasted in vegetable oils like olive or canola oil to ensure even heat distribution.
Raw Vs. Roasted Nuts – Nutritional Differences
Raw and roasted nuts have a similar nutritional profile. However, roasted nuts are higher in fat and calories because they lose moisture during heating. While the difference is not that significant, you might want to keep it in mind if you’re watching your weight and wondering what the healthiest nuts to eat are.
To give you an idea, here is a look at the fat content and caloric value of some of the most popular nuts in raw vs. roasted forms:
- One ounce or 28 grams of raw organic almonds has 14 grams of fat and 161 calories, while the same amount of roasted almonds has 15 grams of fat and 167 calories.
- One ounce or 28 grams of raw organic pecans has 20 grams of fat and 193 calories, while the same amount of roasted pecans has 21 grams of fat and 199 calories.
- One ounce or 28 grams of raw organic cashews has 12 grams of fat and 157 calories, while the same amount of roasted cashews has 13 grams of fat and 163 calories.
So what are the healthiest nuts to eat? Raw nuts might be the best option if you’re deciding based on calories and fat content.
The Disadvantages of Roasted Nuts
Roasted vs. raw nuts have other drawbacks that give the latter the upper hand. Let’s look at some of them.
Raw nuts are packed with nutrients like magnesium, phosphorus, antioxidants, and vitamin E that may improve your health. However, many of these nutrients are heat-sensitive and may become damaged during the roasting process. For instance, antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals might be lost when heated, and Vitamin E may be degraded.
So what are the healthiest nuts to eat in this case? It depends. The extent of degradation differs based on the type of nut and the heating temperature. For example, almonds and walnuts lose more beneficial compounds compared to hazelnuts. On the other hand, raw nuts may have all their nutrients intact, so they may be the better option to enjoy.
Damaged Healthy Fats
Raw nuts and seeds like organic sunflower seeds are full of healthy fats that may lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Exposing nuts to high temperatures for a long time may damage these healthy fats and might even turn them into harmful compounds. Oxidized fats can give nuts an unpleasant taste. Even worse, they may even form free radicals that may attack your cells. This is another reason why raw nuts might be the healthiest nuts to eat.
Roasted vs. raw nuts go through the Maillard reaction during the heating process. This reaction occurs between the nut’s different compounds and creates their brown color upon roasting. However, it may also produce harmful chemicals such as acrylamide. Acrylamide forms when the nuts are roasted. It's a carcinogenic substance that might increase the risk of several cancers.
If you’re wondering what nuts are the healthiest to eat in this case, you should know that each nut may produce different levels of acrylamide. The Maillard reaction happens between asparagine and sugar. Therefore, nuts like almonds with a higher concentration of this amino acid may be more susceptible to producing acrylamide. Studies show no acrylamide formation in roasted macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, or walnuts. Roasted pistachios, however, may have nearly double the amount of acrylamide compared to almonds.
Another downside of roasted nuts is their potential for higher sodium content. The FDA recommends consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Most of the roasted nuts you find in stores might have higher amounts of sodium that may not support your health. So if you’re watching your sodium levels and wondering what the healthiest nuts to eat are, you should choose raw nuts.
Lower Shelf Life
Between raw vs. roasted nuts which ones have a higher shelf life? The lower shelf life of roasted nuts is due to the oxidation that may occur in storage. Since nuts may lose their structure upon roasting, their fat content may be more exposed to oxygen and oxidization. Plus, studies show that trans fats may form in these nuts, which might make them more susceptible to oxidization and reduce their shelf life.
Advantages of Raw, Soaked, & Dehydrated Nuts
By now, the answer to what nuts are the healthiest to eat should be obvious. Raw nuts may be more nutritious, free of harmful chemicals, and might have a longer shelf life. Plus, soaking and dehydrating the raw nuts allows may allow for better absorption of their beneficial nutrients.
That is because nuts naturally have a substance called phytic acid, which protects them as they grow on trees. This substance binds to other minerals when the nuts mature and turn to phytate, limiting your body’s ability to absorb the beneficial compounds. Soaking and dehydrating the raw nuts helps eliminate phytate which may deliver more nutrients to your system.
Some may worry about the fungi and bacteria in raw nuts or roasted nuts. However, with responsible sourcing, management, and storing, these issues can be easily avoided.
Get the Highest Quality Raw Nuts From Wildly Organic
Now that you know what the healthiest nuts to eat are, it’s time to try them. We have a collection of raw, organic, and delicious nuts that are soaked and dehydrated to deliver the best crunch and nutritional benefits. Visit our shop to buy some of the highest quality nuts and get free shipping on +$49 orders.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.