Raw Almonds

Your Almonds Aren’t As Healthy As You Think

In recent years, almonds have become a popular snack for many health conscious Americans.  This is because they are packed with healthy fats, high in protein, and filled with vitamins and minerals your body needs to run optimally.  They are even a member of the illustrious league of superfoods.  If all of this is true, then why am I writing an article about their nutritional pitfalls?  The answer dates back to 2001.


What Happened In 2001?

In 2001, a salmonella outbreak in Canada was traced to an almond farm in California.  Consequently, the FDA began investigating the way almonds were manufactured.  Another outbreak occurred shortly after in 2004, unfortunately forcing the government’s intervention.  From what I understand, these particular farms were using questionable growing strategies that contributed to the salmonella outbreaks.  Rather than altering the farm’s methods, the FDA decided it was a better idea to require all American manufactured almonds be pasteurized.  Pasteurization kills any potential salmonella growth, which is definitely a good thing.  However, does this affect the nutrition composition as well?  We need to first understand the pasteurization process to answer that.

Raw Almonds

How Does Pasteurization Work?

There are four main types of pasteurization:

  1. Steam processing
  2. High heat treatment (roasting)
  3. Blanching
  4. Fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO)

The majority of almonds are pasteurized via steam processing and PPO.  Steam processing is used for pasteurizing organic almonds.  The process involves heating them up to 200 degrees for a brief period of time.  While this kills any potential bacteria, the high temperatures also destroy enzymes, vitamins, and bonds between the healthy fats.  This essentially diminishes the super hero qualities of these tasty treats.  With that being said, steamed almonds are still a much better alternative than their PPO fumigated counterparts.


Unfortunately, steaming requires equipment that may be too expensive for many almond farmers.  As a result, they utilize a more cost effective method to stay in business – fumigation with PPO.  Why is this problematic?  Well, the main issue is that PPO is a verified carcinogen.   The EPA declared PPO a carcinogenic chemical responsible for neurological, gastrointestinal, respiratory, immune system, and more health complications.  For this reason, it is banned in the European Union, Mexico, and Canada as a method to treat food.  It appears that consumers may need to avoid non-organic almonds in order to reduce exposure to PPO.


How Do You Get Raw Almonds?

What can you do if you want these nutritious nuts in their raw form?  It would appear there are two predominant methods for you to get them non-pasteurized.

  1. Buy directly from an almond farmer – Farmers can sell untreated raw almonds, in maximum lots of 100 pounds, directly to consumers from their farms or at a farmer’s market.
  2. Buy imported– Currently, imported almonds are not required to go through pasteurization.

I have personally bought almonds directly from farmers through Amazon.  It is actually a very easy process.  In addition, vendors typically advertise whether or not their stock is pasteurized.  If they are not, the price is actually comparable per pound to what you would see in a grocery store brand.  All you need to do is place the order and check your mail a few days later.  I have never had an issue with this method.  There are also international brands you may purchase, but it may be cost-prohibitive.


In conclusion, almonds are a great superfood in their natural form.  Unfortunately, the majority of American manufactured almonds are pasteurized by steam or PPO fumigation methods.  Consequently, this affects their nutrition content and may even subject consumers to unnecessary toxin exposure.  The benefits of raw almonds are undeniable.  It may take a little more work, but if you get them in their natural state you will reap the health benefits almonds are supposed to offer.  Eating any other form is nuts.

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