Nuts: Roasted or Unroasted?

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We oftentimes overhear nutrition tidbits here and there, and repeat/ retain them as if they’re the gospel truth.  I’ve always heard: “eat raw nuts, they’re better for you”.  As a nutritionist, and lover of roasted nuts… I wanted to know if this was true for both professional and personal reasons.  So I did a little research, and it turns out the answer is not so clear-cut after all.  I did, however, sort through some facts that will help shed light on your decision-making process:

 PROS:

  • Roasting helps break down the nutrients in nuts, making them more bioavailable; helping facilitate effective digestion.  This is good news for anyone with gastrointestinal problems, who should, as a general rule, eat cooked foods.

 * Note: roasted nuts are generally less filling. 

  • High temperature (130ºC), short time (33 minutes) enhanced the antioxidant activity of cashews, and some seeds.  Flavanoids  also increased with increasing temperatures.
  • Nuts are generally high in unsaturated fatty acids, with a low lysine: arginine ratio, and are rich in bioactive molecules.  Both roasted and unroasted nuts, and nut butters are effective in preventing heart disease and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

 CONS:

  • Roasted nuts show a significant decrease in amino acid levels; the higher the roasting temperature, the lower the amino acid content
  • Roasting peanuts (and other nuts) may be linked with increased allergenicity

MIXED RESULTS:

  • Raw nuts with skins intact appear to have superior phenolic levels and antioxidant capacity, when compared with roasted and bleached nuts.  However, the roasting process has different effects on different nuts, seeds and pulses.   Effects on antioxidant levels depend on the roasting conditions (duration and temperature).  Furthermore, higher starch items like cashews and chickpeas develop a higher total antioxidant capacity (TAC).

INTERESTING NOTE:

In a study that tested boiled peanuts against oil-roasted and dry-roasted peanuts, the boiled nuts had significantly higher levels of flavanoids and polyphenolic compounds.  The boiled peanuts also contained trans-Resveratrol, whereas the othe

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