Most people know about the inherent dietary advantages of nuts, which are a good source of heart-healthy fats, fiber and protein. However, consumers may not realize that processing a nut, like roasting, not only alters the taste, but also changes its nutritional value.
Roasting is a simple way to add flavor and texture to shelled nuts. Its impact on flavor is often described as bringing out a “nuttier” taste and a crunchier finish.
The Nut Roasting Process
Nuts can be roasted two ways: dry or using a supplementary fat such as oil. The extra fats and salt used when roasting with oil can provide additional flavor.
Commercial nut processors use large flow-through roasters to roast nuts. The nut meats are fed onto a conveyor belt and moved into heating zones for varying cooking times to help release the nutritional effects of roasting. Other smaller scale roasting processes use ovens or batch fryers. This cooking method can also allow for additional flavors to be added, such as honey or cinnamon.
Nutritional Benefits of Dry Nuts vs Roasted Nuts
The health gains of nuts are undeniable. Studies have shown that the inclusion of nuts into your regular diet can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even fight chronic diseases like cancer.
The impact of roasting a nut is visually apparent, changing the size, moisture and color. But does the process alter the food’s nutritional value? The short answer: minimally.
Once roasted, the amount of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats are similar, with a small rise in both unhealthy fat and calories. The two healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can be damaged when exposed to high heat for too long. Other nutrients like vitamin E or magnesium can be lost during the cooking process.
An obvious advantage to roasted nuts is their improved flavor, which makes them a more appealing addition to people’s diets. However, its important to recognize that the roasting process can enhance some health benefits while also removing harmful bacteria and fungi. Whatever the motivation, we have quite a few reasons to consider including nuts in our everyday diets.