Now that we know nuts are a healthy snack given the right portion sizes, I’d like to address whether to buy roasted or raw nuts. This is a question I get asked often.

When nuts are being roasted, they undergo a certain process that may affect their nutritive value. Nuts are roasted to a very high heat (170° Fahrenheit and above), which may cause the monounsaturated fats to break down, forming toxins and free radicals.

The heating process may also lead to the formation of acrylamide, which is formed when food containing asparagines (an amino acid) are heated to high temperatures. Acrylamide is a chemical compound that is known to cause certain cancers. Several studies have shown the potentially harmful levels of acrylamide have been found in roasted almonds and hazelnuts. These nuts are believed to release the cancerous chemical compound more than those that contain less or no asparigine.

In addition, the free radicals that nuts roasted at high temperatures carry, they may cause lipid peroxidation, a process of the oxidation of fats in your bloodstream that can trigger tiny injuries in artery walls. This may then lead to the buildup of plaque and the development of certain cardiovascular diseases.

In short, the jury is still out on whether you should buy roasted or raw. My opinion is that if the nut is exposed to high heats, this will alter its healthy fats. Altered fats are often inflammatory for our bodies, so logic would follow that roasted nuts are inflammatory. Whenever you have the choice, choose raw nuts.

TIP: An alternative to roasting nuts is to soak and then dry them, making them more digestible. This blog post explains why and how.