Expert Explains Why Raw Nuts Are Better Than Roasted Nuts

Do you take your nuts raw or roasted? The debate over whether raw nuts are better than roasted nuts has been ongoing among health enthusiasts and nutrition experts. Raw nuts are unprocessed and thus retain their original nutrient content. Heat from roasting can degrade some of these nutrients, particularly sensitive ones like certain vitamins and antioxidants. 

For example, Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, is prone to degradation at high temperatures. Moreover, certain B vitamins can be lost during the roasting process. By consuming raw nuts, individuals can ensure they are getting the maximum nutritional benefit from these vitamins.

"Eating nuts and seeds without roasting, eating them raw is definitely more healthy. I don’t recommend roasting nuts and seeds if you can avoid it. Because roasting causes browning which indicates the existence of advanced glycation end product which increase your cancer risk," says lifestyle physician Dr Achyuthan Eswar in one of his reels.

Oxidative Damage

The high temperatures used in roasting can cause oxidative damage to the fats in nuts, leading to the formation of lipid peroxides and other harmful compounds. This oxidative damage can reduce the nutritional quality of the nuts and potentially introduce harmful substances into your diet. Raw nuts, being unheated, do not undergo this oxidative damage, making them a safer and more nutritious option.

Acrylamide Formation

One significant concern with roasted nuts is the formation of acrylamide, a potentially harmful chemical that can form in foods during high-temperature cooking, such as roasting. Acrylamide has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). While the levels of acrylamide in roasted nuts are generally lower compared to other roasted or fried foods, the risk is still present and can be avoided by consuming raw nuts.

Healthy Fats

Nuts are rich in healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. The roasting process can alter the chemical structure of these fats, potentially leading to the formation of harmful trans fats. Trans fats are associated with increased risk of heart disease, inflammation, and other chronic conditions. By eating raw nuts, you avoid the risk of consuming these potentially harmful altered fats, maintaining the integrity of the healthy fats originally present in the nuts.

Antioxidant Content

Nuts are also known for their high antioxidant content, which helps combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. Raw nuts retain higher levels of these antioxidants compared to roasted nuts. For example, studies have shown that raw almonds have higher levels of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, compared to their roasted counterparts. These antioxidants are crucial for preventing cellular damage and reducing the risk of various chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Digestive Health

Raw nuts contain natural enzymes that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. These enzymes can be destroyed by the high heat used in roasting, making it harder for your body to digest and absorb the nutrients effectively. Enzyme inhibitors naturally present in raw nuts are often reduced during soaking, sprouting, or gentle heating processes, which can be a way to make raw nuts more digestible without the nutrient loss associated with roasting.

Fibre Content

Both raw and roasted nuts are good sources of dietary fiber, but raw nuts may have a slight edge. The fiber content in raw nuts remains intact, contributing to better digestive health, regular bowel movements, and a reduced risk of digestive disorders. Dietary fiber also plays a role in managing cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels, and supporting weight management.

Purity and Additives

Raw nuts are in their purest form, free from any additives or preservatives that are often introduced during the roasting process. Many commercially roasted nuts are roasted in unhealthy oils, salted, or flavored with artificial additives, which can negate some of the health benefits of the nuts themselves. By choosing raw nuts, you avoid these potentially harmful additives and enjoy nuts in their natural state.