Is There a Difference Between Raw Almonds and Natural Almonds?

Almonds are a portable healthy snack. Although natural and raw almonds might sound like two names for the same thing, they are different. Raw almonds are uncooked. Natural almonds still have their skins — whether they've been cooked or not.

Raw and natural almonds are not the same thing.
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While natural and raw almonds might seem like the same thing, they are actually different. Raw almonds have not undergone any cooking processes while natural almonds have their skins intact, but may still have been cooked.

Read more: What 100 Calories of Almonds Looks Like

Understand Raw Almonds

The only place in the U.S. where almonds are produced commercially is in California, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Almonds are shaken from trees, collected and processed.

Raw almonds can often be found at roadside farm stands and farmers' markets. But, if you've purchased raw almonds in the grocery store, you might be surprised to learn that they're not quite raw.

According to the Cornucopia Institute, a regulation was put in place in 2007 requiring almonds to be sterilized (pasteurized) before they can be sold in stores. This came about after salmonella outbreaks were traced to raw almonds.

Almonds are treated with chemicals that are potentially harmful to humans. As a result, almonds undergo blanching, oil roasting or moist heating as methods of pasteurization.

The Cornucopia Institute also points out that even organic raw almonds undergo the moist heating process, meaning they're no longer truly raw.

Natural Almonds Nutrition

Almonds have many health benefits. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, almonds are a good source of healthy fats, vitamin E, biotin, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Almonds also provide phytonutrients — nutrients produced by plants that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These nutrients help lower cholesterol and promote growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Consuming almonds in their natural state — skin intact — has added nutrition benefits. Almonds are high in fiber, which aids in blood sugar regulation and digestion. According to a December 2012 article published by Journal of Bioprocessing & Biotechniques, most of an almond's fiber content is in the skin.

Read more: 4 Unwanted Side Effects of Eating Too Many Almonds

Natural Almonds Calories

While almonds are a healthy snack, they're also high in fat and calories. According to the USDA, a 1/4-cup serving of natural almonds provides the following:

  • 170 calories
  • 6 g protein
  • 15 g total fat
  • 0.99 g saturated fat
  • 6 g carbohydrates
  • 4 g fiber

The good news is, all but 1 gram of total fat in natural almonds is unsaturated. As explained by Harvard Health Publishing, this type of fat has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Almonds can be prepared in a variety of ways, which can significantly alter their nutritional content. According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of almonds roasted in oil with added salt provides the following:

  • 238 calories
  • 22 g fat
  • 133 mg sodium

According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of daily sodium intake for healthy adults is 2,300 milligrams. People with high blood pressure or other risks for heart disease should limit their intake to 1,500 milligrams.

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