Here’s how to make sure your nutty snacking habit is as nutritious as possible.
Foods that are packed with nutrients and require no prep time are definitely a healthy win for the pantry, and nuts fit the bill perfectly. No matter what type of nut you’re looking for, you’re picking something full of protein, fiber, carbs, and healthy fats, an energizing quartet.
When buying nuts at the grocery store, you will likely come across raw or roasted nuts. Dietitian and From Exhaustion to Balance author Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, explains that roasting nuts changes their flavor, texture, aroma, and mouthfeel. “It makes the nuts crunchier and may even make them a little easier to digest,” she says.
Some people prefer raw nuts while others prefer the taste and texture of roasted nuts. But is there a difference when it comes to nutritional benefits? Here’s what dietitians have to say.
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How eating nuts benefits the body
Nuts are packed with nutritional benefits whether eaten raw or roasted. “Most nuts tend to be lower in carbs and relatively higher in fat, fiber and protein. They are therefore a great addition to fruit as a snack and help balance blood sugar,” says a dietitian. Nour Zibdeh, MS, RDN. Dietitian and 2 day diabetes diet author Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, LDN, CPT, agrees, explaining that these nutrients are great for feeling fuller and fuller for longer, unlike snacking on chips, which aren’t as filling and have little nutritional value.
Palinski-Wade adds that nuts are a great source of protein, making them a good food to incorporate into meals or enjoy before or after a workout. “For example, a serving of pistachios provides 12% of your daily protein value, which is more than you’d find in a serving of tofu, quinoa, chickpeas, or even other nuts,” she says. .
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The three dietitians claim that nuts also contain many micronutrients, which are also beneficial to the body, especially selenium, phosphorus and vitamin E, to name a few. Bannan says walnuts also contain magnesium, which helps with blood circulation and may aid relaxation and contribute to good sleep.
Palinksi-Wade and Zibdeh say scientific studies show that regular nut consumption has also been linked to weight loss and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Dietitians say these are all the benefits a person can get from regularly eating nuts, whether raw or roasted.
Related: Registered Dietitians Reveal the 10 Healthiest Nuts to Snack On
Raw vs. Roasted nuts: which one is the healthiest?
Both raw and roasted nuts are healthy, but does choosing one over the other mean you’re getting even more bang for your buck? First of all, it is important to know what happens during the roasting process. Some nuts are dry roasted and some are oil roasted. “Dry-roasted means that the nuts have been roasted over dry heat to cook them evenly on all sides. Oil-roasted nuts involve the use of added oil in the cooking, which increases the content very slightly in fat and calories from nuts,” says Palinski-Wade.
In general, dietitians all say that raw nuts and roasted nuts have extremely comparable nutritional content. But if you want to be serious, Zibdeh says raw nuts are a bit healthier than roasted nuts. This is due to two reasons.
First, she says that the heat used during roasting slightly reduces antioxidant and vitamin levels: “Roasting can also damage some of their healthy fats, and if improperly stored in heat or exposed to direct sunlight for too long, these fats can go rancid.” she says. Second, if the nuts are roasted in oil, it can add extra calories, which may not be ideal if someone is aiming to lose weight.
But the three dietitians point out that raw nuts and roasted nuts are both nutritious options, so you can choose whichever you prefer. What may actually be more important to pay attention to when buying nuts is the sodium content, which salted nuts may be high in. Bannan recommends unsalted or lightly salted nuts for anyone concerned about their sodium content. (Lightly salted nuts don’t negatively impact heart health, so a little salt is fine.)
Zibdeh says nuts can also be roasted at home in the oven, toaster or air fryer. “People can buy raw nuts and roast a small amount as needed (that way), she explains, adding that when you roast nuts at home, you control the temperature. (Remember: the higher it is, the more nutritional benefits you’ll lose.) “Roasting and eating what you need will prevent the damage that happens over time with long-term storage,” she says. .
If you love roasted nuts, rest assured you’re still getting almost the exact nutritional benefits as if you were to eat them raw. This is a debate with two winning sides.
Then, check out a list of the top 40 sources of plant-based protein, including nuts!
Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of From Exhaustion to Balance
Nour Zibdeh, MS, RDN, dietician
Dietitian and 2 day diabetes diet author Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, LDN, CPT, registered dietitian and author of 2 day diabetes diet