Squirrels truly do know best: nuts are a great addition to a healthy diet. While you may have heard a lot about nuts, you might wonder if there is a difference between roasted nuts and raw nuts. Which kind is best, and can one actually be harmful to your health?
Lets take a closer look at both kinds to find out more.
Why Raw Nuts are so Good for Us
Nuts are a nutritious part of any snack or meal. They are high in protein, and high in heart-healthy fats and fiber. In addition, raw nuts have essential nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, sterols and antioxidants.
There are many kinds of nuts and each has its own health-promoting properties. For instance, Brazil nuts provide high quantities of selenium and almonds are an excellent source of calcium.
Walnuts are a super rich source of omega -3 fatty acids. Studies show that just one small handful of nuts provides protection against heart disease that is similar to cholesterol-lowering drugs.
It has also been found that nuts protect against diabetes and insulin sensitivity. Because nuts are a concentrated source of protein, fiber and fats, they digest slowly and are filling. This helps with healthy weight maintenance.
Dangers of Roasted Nuts
Roasted nuts are obviously further from their natural state than raw nuts. They have been processed, and as a general rule, processed foods are less healthy than raw foods.
When nuts are exposed to high heat during the roasting process, the fat content may break down causing free radicals. Free radicals damage cells and DNA.
In addition, roasting may cause acrylamides to form. Acrylamides are dangerous, and form when nuts, which contain the amino acid asparagine, are heated to high temperatures. Acrylamides have caused cancer in laboratory animals and may increase cancer risk in humans. Roasted nuts, in particular almonds, tend to have high levels of acrylamides.
Roasted nuts also tend to be lower in magnesium, iron and phosphorus than raw nuts, and may contain about 10 more calories per serving. It is also important to note the oil that nuts are often roasted in. This may be canola or soybean, both of which are often genetically modified. If you choose roasted nuts, be sure they are organic and contain no added salt.
If you really love the taste of roasted nuts but don’t want the acrylamides, consider roasting them at home with a hint of organic coconut oil and Himalayan salt, at a temperature lower than 170 degrees. They will take a long time to cook but are extremely delicious when done.
Soaking Raw Nuts
It is important to say a word about soaking raw nuts. Many raw food recipes call for soaked nuts, and there are advantages to doing so. Raw nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, taste better after they have been soaked, and are also easier to digest. Soaking removes the dust, residue and tannins from the nut shell, as well.
Phytic acid, which inhibits the digestion of vital nutrients, is also reduced when you soak nuts. In addition, enzyme activity is elevated because enzyme inhibitors are neutralized during the soaking process.
Depending on the nut, soak in filtered water anywhere between twenty minutes to overnight in the fridge for best results. Be sure to rinse when you are finished soaking.
The Bottom Line
Although there is not a huge nutritional advantage to organic raw nuts over organic roasted nuts, we choose the raw nuts for three reasons: they taste great, they contain no damaging free radicals, and they are free of acrylamides. If you consume raw nuts, consider soaking them first.
-The Alternative Daily