What are the dangers of eating raw almonds?

Updated April 17, 2017

The almond is a ubiquitous nut consumed worldwide. While almonds are often transported raw, they're rarely eaten raw as doing so can be extremely dangerous. While almonds are occasionally labelled as raw, in the United States, they aren't actually. They're usually pasteurised since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbids the sale of raw almonds.

Spontaneous Combustion

Raw almonds are self-heating. While this isn't necessarily a danger of eating a raw almond, raw almonds can light themselves on fire when stored under pressure. This is caused by the high oil content of almonds and the self-heating properties of the nut under pressure.

Amygdalin Poisoning

Raw bitter almonds, which usually aren't consumed plain are quite dangerous. Raw, bitter almonds contain amygdalin which will react with other compounds in the human digestive tract to produce Prussic acid. Even seven or eight raw bitter almonds can prove to be a fatal dose for young children. Adults are at risk too, though it's rarely fatal to adults.


Almonds can be an ideal home for the mould Aspergillus. Almonds that have been tainted cannot readily be told apart from clean almonds. Aspergillus produces aflatoxin. Aflatoxin poisoning can cause fever and severe liver damage including cirrhosis and necrosis.


Untreated, raw nuts can contain pathogenic diseases, such as salmonella. Raw almonds are pasteurised to prevent this from happening. This came on the heels of a salmonella outbreak in California that was traced back to the consumption of raw almonds.

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About the Author

Josh Infiesto has been writing since 2008. He currently writes technical documentation while also doing Web development, design and occasionally technical support. Previously, he was a freelance Web designer and spent most of his time designing websites or writing ad copy for clients. He is finishing a piano performance degree from Southern Utah University and is a Microsoft Certified Professional.