Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

October 3, 2009

Raw vs. Roasted

Filed under: diet — Tags: , , — Mara @ 3:19 pm

So if you’re like me, you have become a big fan of nuts of all varieties. I am never without a ziploc full of pecans, walnuts, maybe pistachios, and the almighty almond. Satiating fat with a little kick of protein, nuts find their way into my yogurt, onto my fish, on top of my salads, and straight into my mouth.

But recently I’ve been wondering whether I should be eating raw nuts or roasted ones. I’ve heard that legumes and grains must be cooked or sprouted to be easily digestible. What about nuts?

Well, it seems that the opposite is true. Since nuts are mostly fat, the crucial thing with them is what happens to the fats at high temperatures, i.e. when they’re roasted. Apparently, it’s no bueno.

I looked around online and found the following summary from xomba.com

“What advantage do raw organic nuts have over roasted ones? One area of considerable concern with regard to roasted nuts is the issue of acrylamides. Acrylamides are chemicals formed when certain foods containing the amino acid asparagine are heated to a high temperature. The problem with acrylamides is they’ve been shown to cause cancer in animals and are strongly believed to be carcinogenic in humans. The majority of nuts contain enough asparagine that when roasted to high temperatures they form significant amounts of these cancer causing chemicals.

“The way to avoid the formation of dangerous acrylamides is to eat raw organic nuts rather than the roasted variety. This is particularly true of almonds which generally form higher levels of acrylamides than do other roasted nuts. The hazelnut is a nut with lower levels of asparagines so it’s least likely to form high levels of acrylamides.

“There’s also some question as to whether heating nuts to high temperatures alters the healthy fats that make them so beneficial for the heart. Heat has the ability to cause changes in chemical bonds which may affect structures such as fats. High heat can also increase the formation of free radicals which have negative effects on the body by damaging DNA, the genetic material. These free radicals can also cause a reaction called lipid peroxidation which can injure the walls of blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease.

“If you don’t like the taste of raw nuts, one option is to roast your own nuts at home using lower temperatures. Acrylamide formation doesn’t begin to occur until temperatures rise above 240 degrees Farenheit and free radicals generally don’t form until temperatures go above 170 degrees Farenenheit. Roasting your nuts in an oven where the temperature is kept at around 160 degrees Farenehit will give you that roasted nut flavor without destroying the health benefits.”

If you hadn’t heard, nuts, particularly almonds, have been proven to statistically reduce heart disease in a number of studies, as summarized from this site:

“It has been shown that people eating nuts daily, or more than once a day, had a 59 percent lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease. In addition, several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts on lowering cholesterol levels. The beneficial effects of nut consumption observed in clinical and epidemiologic studies underscore the importance of distinguishing different types of fat. One study estimated that every exchange of one ounce of saturated fat to one once of nut-fat from consuming a whole nut was associated with a 45 percent reduction in heart disease risk.” (wellsphere.com article)

Whether they’re ground up into a crust, sprinkled on a salad, blended into a butter, or dumped straight down the gullet, nuts are a delicious, nutritious, and essential part of our primal diet.

Just eat ’em raw, like Grok would have.

Hooray for nuts!

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the info Mara. I tend to like raw better anyways, roasted nuts always have to much salt added to them. Go Nuts!

    Comment by Abby — October 4, 2009 @ 10:25 am

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