Packed with fiber, minerals, vitamins, protein, and energy, nuts are among the healthiest foods to snack on.
However, nuts are not the easiest foods to digest and can cause symptoms such as digestive issues and heartburn.
How can you introduce these foods into your diet and avoid their side effects? and what are the easiest to digest?
Nuts are not considered easy to digest foods because they contain phytic acid, which is indigestible and prevents other minerals from being absorbed.
Soaking or sprouting nuts causes them to release the phytates, making them easier to digest.
However, if you don’t want to miss out on the health benefits of nuts, the following ones are among the easiest to digest:
These are considered to be the best nuts to digest because they are alkaline – or the least acidic of all nuts.
In turn, this can prevent them from worsening conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux.
Nuts are a great addition to anybody’s diet, but preparing them properly is the key to enjoying food that is both delicious and easy to digest.
Find out all you need to know about eating nuts below.
The reason they are not easily digestible is due to their chemical composition.
Individuals that suffer from conditions such as Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) might find that nuts can worsen their flare-ups and act as potential triggers.
Almonds, pecans, cashews, and walnuts are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which protect the heart and blood circulation – which is essential for a healthy digestive system.
If you have a sensitive stomach, you have probably been looking for a diet that can help you reduce flare-ups, heartburn, or reflux.
Low-acid foods and meals are among the most recommended ones for digestibility.
The nuts seen above ranks as more digestible, but they might still not be suitable for everyone – learn how to make most nuts more digestible below.
Nuts and Digestibility
Generally, nuts are not considered to be among the best foods to eat if you have a sensitive stomach.
They contain several compounds such as tannins and phytates that can make them hard to digest and cause side effects such as bloating and heartburn.
In particular, phytates, or phytic acid, are compounds responsible for binding vital minerals and vitamins.
The chemical reaction is one of nature’s protective systems to ensure that seeds and nuts have a chance to sprout, grow, and develop once in the ground.
If animals eat nuts, they pass through their digestive system intact, and they end up once again in the soil, which gives the seed or nut a chance to develop into a new plant.
While this system has helped plant species ensure survival, it does have some side effects for humans.
Phytates work by capturing and binding minerals (including magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and calcium) until the plant is ready to germinate.
Phytates are not digestible by humans because the digestive system lacks the enzyme necessary to break down these compounds.
Aside from being hard to digest, nuts’ composition makes it difficult for the digestive system to absorb essential minerals and vitamins from the nuts.
Luckily, you can do something to recreate the natural release of phytates that naturally happens when the nut is ready to germinate.
How To Make Nuts Easier To Digest
The phytates’ job is to bind minerals and vitamins necessary for the nut to germinate.
However, these minerals are naturally released when the nut is getting ready to germinate.
By preparing the nuts in a certain way, you can recreate this process and allow the nuts to naturally release the phytates and free the essential minerals and vitamins that are optimal for our nutrition.
Some of the best ways to make nuts easier to digest include:
- Soaking: Soaking the nuts before eating them is the easiest way to reduce phytates. For this method, mix around 4 cups of nuts with 1-2 tbsp of salt and leave them in water for around eight hours. Allow the nuts to dry in a dehydrator for 24 hours.
- Sprouting: Once you have soaked the nuts, place them in a jar or sieve and cover them with a cloth to let oxygen through the jar. Continue to sprinkle the nuts with water until they have started to sprout.
- Fermenting: Place your nuts in water and add an acidic medium such as lemon, whey, or apple cider vinegar. Once you are ready to cook them, just drain the water and roast them!
Who Should Not Eat Nuts?
The methods above are great alternatives for reducing the phytates in nuts and making them easier to digest.
However, nuts might not be the healthiest snack for everybody.
Two conditions that might not make nuts so suitable for your diet include:
- Nut allergies and intolerances: If you are allergic to nuts or have a food intolerance, nuts might cause severe digestive problems. In this case, you might want to talk with your doctor and check whether you should be eating them as part of your diet. If you have an allergy, soaking them won’t help.
- Diverticulitis: If you suffer from a condition called diverticulitis, nuts and seeds can cause or worsen flares. Some of the side effects you might notice include nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal tenderness. Your doctor will be able to indicate what is the best diet for your condition.
Will Nuts Give You Heartburn?
Heartburn is a common condition that can present itself in a variety of severity levels.
In most cases, heartburn is not much more than a simple annoyance.
However, in some other cases, this condition can create severe discomfort.
If you have noticed that heartburn keeps recurring, you might try to determine what food and lifestyle factors are related to it.
If you are concerned with heartburn, keep in mind that nuts are essentially high-fat foods.
While the fats contained in nuts are healthy fatty acids necessary for good health, they can cause heartburn.
High-fat foods can cause heartburn for two reasons:
- They can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (the barrier between the stomach and esophagus) to relax, which causes stomach acids to escape the stomach and cause heartburn.
- High-fat foods are linked to releasing a particular hormone that can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and turn into acid reflux.
If you often find yourself dealing with heartburn, try avoiding nuts or other high-fat foods.
Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to find natural solutions to reduce heartburn incidence through diet and lifestyle.
What Nuts Are Gluten-Free?
If you are a celiac or you are intolerant to gluten, nuts are naturally gluten-free, including Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts.
However, this is only true for nuts in their natural form.
If you are buying nuts or nut mixes at the supermarket, check the labels to make sure that they are entirely gluten-free.
They might have been packaged in establishments that use gluten in other forms.
Additionally, if you have opted for flavored options, there might be ingredients containing gluten.
You should also keep this in mind when buying nut butter and spreads unless you make them at home.
Will Snacking on Nuts Make You Fat?
If you want a healthy snack to give you the energy you need during the day, nuts should go your go-to option.
Nuts are little bundles of essential nutrients such as fiber, minerals, vitamins, and plant-based protein.
Each nut is packed with specific nutrients that you need, so opting for a mix of seeds and nuts can help you calm your cravings.
However, keep in mind that nuts are high-fat and high-calorie foods that you should only consume in limitation.
A handful of mixed nuts include:
- 3-7g (0.11-0.25oz) of protein
- 1-3g (0.04-0.11oz) of fiber
- 160-200 calories
- 14-20g (0.49-0.71oz) of fat
As you can see, nuts are natural and minimally processed food.
Undoubtedly, these foods are packed with so many nutrients that the benefits of introducing them into your diet outweigh the disadvantages.
However, it is essential to eat nuts in moderation to increase your daily calorie count by too much.
Speak to a nutritionist if you are not sure how many calories you should be consuming to maintain or lose weight.
Is It OK To Eat a Handful of Nuts a Day?
Roughly, a handful of nuts corresponds to an ounce of nuts.
Consuming nuts in this quantity is perfect for obtaining all the nutrients you need to be healthy while also reaping all the benefits of eating nuts.
The limited calories contained in a handful of nuts won’t impact your weight loss goal.
However, the type of nut you eat can also impact the amount you can eat.
For some nuts, such as Brazil nuts, you should limit your intake to one to three nuts a day.
Brazil nuts are packed with Selenium, an essential nutrient but needs to be consumed in moderation to avoid overdoses.
If you don’t suffer from any allergy to nuts, eating a handful of mixed nuts a day is the best way to benefit from eating nuts.
You might add them to your morning cereal or lunch salad to enjoy them at their best.
Nuts are among the healthiest foods you can enjoy, as they are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that make them an essential staple in anybody’s diet.
Yet, you must limit their consumption to under a handful a day to avoid weight gain issues.
Additionally, nuts are not one of the most digestible foods.
Because of their phytate content, they need to be soaked or fermented to be more digestible.
If you have a sensitive stomach or suffer from heartburn, you should consider preparing and cooking them before consuming them.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.