Both raw and roasted cashews can be part of a healthy diet. Raw and roasted cashews have similar nutrition profiles, with some key differences. The choice between raw or roasted cashews comes down to personal preference and how you plan to use them.
Raw and roasted cashews have very similar nutrition profiles. However, roasting does change some of the nutrients.
Calories and Macronutrients
There is little difference in calories and macronutrients between raw and roasted cashews:
|Calories||155 per 1 oz||163 per 1 oz|
|Protein||5 g||5 g|
|Carbs||9 g||9 g|
|Fat||12 g||13 g|
As you can see, roasted cashews contain slightly more calories and fat per serving compared to raw. However, this difference is minimal.
Vitamins and Minerals
Roasting reduces some heat-sensitive vitamins in cashews, but the overall vitamin and mineral content remains similar:
|Vitamin/Mineral||Raw (1 oz)||Roasted (1 oz)|
|Vitamin K||10% DV||10% DV|
|Copper||25% DV||24% DV|
|Magnesium||20% DV||19% DV|
|Phosphorus||15% DV||14% DV|
|Zinc||15% DV||14% DV|
|Vitamin B6||15% DV||12% DV|
The most significant change is a loss of some vitamin B6 during the roasting process. However, cashews still provide many important vitamins and minerals regardless of roasting.
One concern with roasting nuts is potential damage to the healthy fats. Fortunately, cashews maintain their excellent fatty acid profile after roasting:
|Monounsaturated||6.7 g||7.1 g|
|Polyunsaturated||2.2 g||2.4 g|
|Saturated||2.2 g||2.3 g|
In particular, roasting does not appear to damage the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that make nuts a healthy choice.
Raw nuts contain a compound called phytic acid. Phytic acid can bind to minerals and reduce their absorption. Roasting nuts breaks down some of their phytic acid.
One study found that phytic acid was reduced by around 18-20% from roasting cashews. This leads to increased mineral bioavailability compared to raw cashews.
If you rely on cashews as a key source of minerals like iron and zinc, roasted cashews may be the better choice. However, both raw and roasted cashews are good sources of minerals.
Like phytic acid, oxalates are compounds that can hinder mineral absorption. Cashews have moderate oxalate levels.
One study found that roasting at high temperatures for long periods can break down some of the oxalates in nuts. However, the reduction was modest, just 5-10%.
Overall, oxalates are unlikely to be a major concern for most healthy people eating cashews in normal amounts.
Acrylamide is a harmful compound formed in some foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying or roasting. acrylamide has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in animal studies.
Acrylamide forms in foods like nuts, coffee, and french fries that undergo browning. Lightly roasted and blanched nuts have undetectable or extremely low acrylamide levels.
One study found no detectable acrylamide in cashews roasted at typical temperatures under 280F (138C). However, higher roasting temperatures and longer times do increase acrylamide formation.
To minimize acrylamide, avoid roasting nuts at extremely high temperatures. If you buy pre-roasted cashews, choose lighter roasted varieties.
Antinutrients: The Bottom Line
Roasting can reduce some natural antinutrients like phytic acid in nuts. This may boost the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron for some people.
However, cashews continue to provide many health benefits when eaten raw. If you enjoy the flavor and crunch of roasted cashews, they can be part of a nutrient-dense diet.
Food safety is another consideration when choosing between raw or roasted nuts.
Raw nuts may carry an increased risk of salmonella and other bacteria. Outbreaks of salmonella poisoning have been linked to contaminated raw nuts, including raw cashews.
However, the risk is still low, especially for major commercial brands that follow food safety protocols. Practicing proper kitchen hygiene like hand washing can further reduce any risk from eating raw nuts.
The roasting process kills potential bacteria, making roasted nuts safer. For this reason, raw nuts are not recommended for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
Those with nut allergies should avoid both raw and roasted cashews, as roasting does not reduce the protein allergens.
People without nut allergies appear to tolerate raw and roasted nuts equally well with rare allergic reactions. One study found some individuals reacted to raw cashews but not roasted. However, these people were able to eat roasted nuts without issues afterward.
Use in Recipes
Raw and roasted cashews both work well in recipes, but there are some differences in texture and flavor.
Raw cashews have a softer crunch and mild flavor. Their softer texture can blend into smoothies, sauces, and desserts more easily.
Roasted cashews have a crisp, nuttier flavor that provides more contrast in recipes. They hold up better as toppings and in cookies, bars, granola, and salads.
Roasted cashews are ideal for recipes when you want that classic roasted nut flavor. Raw cashews work well when you want a subtler nutty flavor and soft texture.
Raw cashews typically cost a little more than roasted cashews. Raw cashews need to be transported and stored carefully to prevent contamination.
The roasting process increases the shelf life of cashews, making storage and transport less risky. The extra costs of handling raw cashews leads to their slightly higher price.
The environmental impact of growing and processing cashews is similar for both raw and roasted nuts. Most of the energy use comes from farming, harvesting, and shipping the nuts.
One analysis found that roasting accounted for less than 2% of the total energy used to produce roasted nuts. So while raw cashews skip the roasting step, the difference in energy use is negligible.
Most cashews today come from India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brazil. Some cashew farming has raised concerns over working conditions and labor practices.
When buying cashews, raw or roasted, look for fair trade brands to support responsible cashew production. Fair trade programs help ensure fair wages and labor conditions for cashew farmers.
Taste and Preference
The biggest difference between raw and roasted cashews is taste and texture. Roasted cashews have a stronger, nuttier flavor and crisp texture. Raw cashews are milder in flavor with a soft, almost creamy crunch.
Your cashew preference simply comes down to what tastes better to you. Some people strongly prefer one over the other, while many enjoy both roasted and raw cashews.
Both raw and roasted cashews contain beneficial antioxidants. These include tocopherols, phenolic compounds, selenium, and flavonoids.
Some research shows roasting may slightly reduce antioxidants like tocopherols while increasing antioxidants like flavonoids. However, the overall antioxidant capacity remains high after roasting.
Both raw and roasted cashews are considered an excellent source of antioxidants. One study found cashews have a stronger antioxidant effect than many common antioxidant-rich fruits.
Overall, raw and roasted cashews have a similar nutritional value and health benefits. Both can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
Choose raw cashews to minimize compounds formed during roasting. Raw cashews also have a milder flavor and soft, creamy texture perfect for many recipes.
Roasted cashews may be a better choice for those wanting to maximize mineral absorption. Their crunch and nutty flavor make them ideal for snacks, salads, and many other recipes.
As with most foods, enjoying cashews in moderation is key. Aim for a 1 ounce portion of nuts, either raw or roasted, a few times per week as recommended by dietary guidelines.
Whichever type of cashew you prefer, they make a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet.