Nut Butter: the Raw vs Roasted Debate

Raw vs Roasted Nut Butter
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

You go to the store for some nut butter, you find the right aisle and are mindblown when you see the variety. Not only are there peanut butters, almond butters, cashew butters, sesame butters, and hazelnut butters, but they all come in raw or roasted varieties! What is a shopper to do?

Nuts have been shown over and over to have a healthy effect on heart health, through lowering blood lipids and decreasing inflammation.  Some studies have associated regular nut consumption (in moderation mind you) to be associated with healthy weight loss. In these studies, raw and roasted varieties seem to contain similar phytochemical and nutrient profiles. But what about the butters? Are there real health benefits, which are scientifically based, making raw versus roasted nut butters better?

The short answer is, not really. I cannot find any evidence that makes me favor one over the other. But there are a few things to consider:

  1. The Price
    Raw nut butters are notoriously more expensive than their roasted counter parts. Not everyone can afford the posh raw brands; I want all my patients to consume nuts and their butters, for some this means they’ve got to opt for the roasted variety. And that’s just fine by me.
  2. “Raw” Isn’t Always Raw
    Yep, even your raw almond butter was pasteurized. California produces most of the world’s almonds and pasteurizes them all to limit contaminants. So the debate is pretty moot here, because the majority of almonds are cooked to a degree.
  3. Phytic Acid
    A large portion of phosphorous in nuts and seeds comes in the form of phytic acid. This acid can block the absorption of some minerals including zinc and calcium. Some studies suggest that roasting nuts decreases the phytic acid content. This isn’t something to get too uptight about: As long as you’re not eating multiple fistfuls of nuts a day, it’s not a problem.

So the SuperFoodsRx verdict is in: Have your nuts, eat them in butter form, and raw versus roasted? It’s up to you.

Raw vs Roasted Nut Butter Sources: National Center for Biotechnical Information (article 1), National Center for Biotechnical Information (article 2), The Journal of Nutrition, Almond Board of California, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences

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