If you like peanuts, peanut butter and peanut candy, you have no doubt eaten a Spanish peanut, whether you realized it or not. Spanish peanuts are typically smaller than regular peanuts and are covered in a reddish-brown skin. They are most often used to make candies and peanut butter. Available raw or roasted, you can also enjoy Spanish peanuts by themselves. Nutritionally, there isn't much of a difference between the two peanut types, but raw peanuts may be less allergenic than roasted. The better choice just depends on your preference.
If you enjoy minimally processed foods, you may prefer raw Spanish peanuts over roasted Spanish peanuts. Raw peanuts are simply air-dried to decrease moisture content. If you eat peanuts because of the taste, you may prefer roasted Spanish peanuts. Roasting nuts enhances their flavor and creates a crispier texture. Roasted Spanish peanuts are roasted in oil, typically in coconut, cottonseed or peanut oil, for three to 10 minutes at 280 to 290 degrees F.
The one significant difference between the raw and roasted Spanish peanut is shelf life. Raw peanuts go rancid more quickly than roasted peanuts, according to the website Healthnotes. Once your peanuts go rancid, you should discard them to prevent yourself from getting sick. To improve shelf life, you should keep your Spanish peanuts in the refrigerator. Shelled peanuts refrigerated last up to three months, and unshelled up to nine months.
Food safety is an issue when comparing raw and roasted Spanish peanuts. Raw peanuts are more susceptible to mold, specifically the cancer-causing mold aflatoxin. If your raw peanuts are moldy, you should discard them immediately. While you need to be concerned with mold on raw Spanish peanuts, roasting them increases their allergenicity. A 2006 study published in "Clinical and Experimental Allergy" compared the allergen quantities in raw vs. roasted peanuts and found roasted peanuts contain significantly higher amounts. However, when you have a peanut allergy, eating either raw or roasted peanuts is dangerous and should be avoided.
When it comes to the nutritional content of raw versus roasted Spanish peanuts, the differences are slight. Raw peanuts are slightly higher in calcium, magnesium, iron and folate. The raw variety may also be lower in fat and calories, especially if the roasted variety are processed in oils -- sometimes unhealthy hydrogenated oils. Roasted nuts are also often salted, which increases their sodium content. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz on the Sharecare healthcare information website, the healthiest nuts to eat are raw, fresh and unsalted.
- The Peanut Institute: Peanut Facts
- USDA: Nutrient Database
- American Institute of Cancer Research; Nutrition Wise; Is It True That Raw Nuts and Seeds are More Nutritious Than Those That Have Been Roasted?; Karen Collins
- "Clinical and Experimental Allergy"; Quantification of Ara h 1 in Peanuts: Why Roasting Makes a Difference; A. Pomes, et al.; June 2006
- Environmental Health and Safety Online; Aflatoxins in Your Food - and their Effect on Your Health; July 2011
- Boiled Peanuts: Questions and Answers