Human beings have always shared an affinity towards nuts, starting from the hunting-gathering days to the current age. Nuts have been a staple for many civilizations, and their availability has made them a favorite among people worldwide.
Lately, the health-conscious vegan demographic has shown increasing interest in nuts. Nuts happen to be a staple in vegan diets due to their versatile nutrient profile. For starters, nuts are a great source of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
But not everyone can digest them well. They contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that can cause digestive issues such as abdominal cramps, lower belly pain and bloating.
Not only nuts but multiple other popular vegan foods are known to cause digestive discomfort. The primary reason to this is the high-fiber content in plant-based foods. It is because of this notion that a vegan diet is widely associated with bloating and other digestion related problems.
This article will try to answer some basic questions for nut-lovers: are nuts hard to digest? If so, which are the easiest nuts to digest? But before we get to the bottom of these questions, let’s understand what role nuts play in a vegan diet.
Role Of Nuts In A Vegan Diet
Nuts play an integral role in vegan diets. They are perfectly vegan-friendly and hassle-free, making them a befitting snack for people of all ages. Nuts have high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for the heart.
They consist of antioxidants which are better known as polyphenols. These antioxidants protect cells and LDL cholesterol against damage. They also reduce inflammation as well as vessel wall plaque.
Nuts are a great source of iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E. They are packed with fiber to give off the impression of filling you up quicker, in turn reducing some potential calorie intake. The fiber content aids gut bacteria in fermentation and overall good gut health.
Nuts are fairly low in carbs, quelling any concerns of rising blood sugar in vegans. They are ideal for high-protein and low-fat vegan diets.
Are Nuts Hard To Digest?
If chewed well, received by a relatively healthy digestive tract, and consumed in moderation, nuts are easy to digest. But, here’s the catch- nuts contain properties such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are counter-productive to digestion.
They act as defenses, preventing nuts from premature germination and messing with the digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas to help break down food.
These so-called “anti-nutrients” disrupt the absorption of some essential nutrients and molecules which are responsible for the proper digestion of proteins. This can cause digestive issues such as lower belly pain, cramping, bloating, etc. Often, you might not be digesting nuts properly even if there are no apparent symptoms of indigestion.
1. Are Peanuts Hard To Digest?
As per popular opinion, peanuts are not the easiest nuts to digest. If consumed beyond moderation, they can cause diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Couple that with the increasing complaints of peanut allergies, and you have a rather infamous nut at hand. Peanuts contain tons of fiber, which can be good in moderation. But beyond a point, excessive and sudden consumption of fiber can lead to some serious digestive issues.
2. Are Walnuts Hard To Digest?
Compared to other nuts, walnuts contain more heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and natural antioxidants. However, despite their obvious nutritional value, walnuts can cause distress to your digestive tract. Their extremely rich fiber content often leads to negative side effects, including but not limited to stomach upset, bloating, cramps, and such.
If you are susceptible to gastrointestinal distress, try avoiding walnuts completely. Moreover, check for walnut allergy and intolerance before consumption in excess.
3. Are Almonds Hard To Digest?
When raw nuts are in concern, almonds are not the easiest for digestion. They have a rigid texture which slows down digestion. Often, you will find portions of the raw almond intact in your body as it passes through the digestive tract. This can increase the chances of discomfort and abdominal pain. So, as for how to change the hard texture of the almond, roasting or boiling it is a great way out
A common practice among people that find it hard to digest almonds is consuming almond milk instead. There could be some merit to this switch given the fact that Almond milk, despite being vastly less nutrient dense than almonds, is still rich in Vitamin E and RIboflavin. However, there’s still something you need to be mindful of.
Most store-bought almond milk brands contain carrageenan, a compound added to improve its consistency. Carrageenan is known to cause digestive discomfort. This implies, processed almond milk can cause constipation and other digestive ailments too, instead of proving to be a safer alternative to whole almonds.
4. Are Cashews Hard To Digest?
Cashews can also be quite hard to digest if consumed raw. They contain phytates, the so-called “anti-nutrients” we spoke about earlier. They make it difficult for your body to absorb minerals and vitamins. A way to counter that is by soaking cashews overnight before adding them to dishes of your choice. This will help reduce their phytate content and, in turn, improve digestibility.
5. Are Pistachios Hard To Digest?
Pistachios are one of the easiest nuts to digest. They are rich in antioxidants that are good for absorption in the digestive tract. However, they are only good in moderation, so make sure you do not consume pistachios in excess.
You might face issues such as bloating and normal stomach pain if you suffer from fructan intolerance. Lastly, needless to mention, if you harbor pistachio allergies of any kind, stay away from them.
6. Are Pecans Hard To Digest?
Not one of the best nuts for digestion, pecans are relatively ill-advised in general. They contain insoluble fibers which our bodies cannot break down. This leaves the pecans in a fibrous state, making you feel fuller than you are.
The presence of phytates and tannins makes pecans harder to absorb naturally by the human body. Make sure you consume pecans in moderation and pace yourself in the process.
How To Make Nuts Easy To Digest?
Did you know that the best nuts for digestion are the ones soaked for a while? Go to the nearest market, get your hands on some raw nuts, mix some 4 cups of nuts with about one to two tablespoons of salt, add some water to it to submerge it. The salt will help reduce the phytic acid. Make sure to soak it overnight, or at least for 8 hours. Do not keep them in the fridge.
Later, rinse off the excess salt. Lastly, dry in an oven or a dehydrator until crisp.Sprouting will further reduce the presence of anti-nutrient substances, except it is more labor-intensive. Note that salt is optional, and the nuts must be organic.
Another rule of thumb is to always have nuts in moderation. They are high in calories and can be counter-productive in excess. Try to restrict yourself to a handful or an ounce of nuts daily.
Benefits Of Soaking Raw Nuts
Soaking nuts have tons of benefits. One such huge benefit is improved absorption of nutrients. The inclusion of antioxidants, protein, fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, healthy fats and minerals makes nuts great for absorption. They also lower the risks of bad cholesterol and cancer. If you are trying to go for a weight loss diet, soaked nuts are a great option.
The soaking process activates the sprouting procedure, thus letting the large intestine absorb essential nutrients more easily.Yet another benefit of soaking nuts is increased digestibility and enzyme activity. It stimulates proper germination conditions for aptly neutralizing enzyme inhibitors.
Lastly, taste also becomes a decisive factor in soaked nuts. Soaked nuts taste better and take off the bitterness of most raw nuts. Soaking and rinsing take away the tannins, in turn taking care of nausea or irritation.
Verdict | Do-Nuts Cause Gas?
The final verdict is that nuts do cause gas. Still, if consumed in moderation and fed to a healthy digestive tract, you can potentially avoid chances of bloating, stomach pains, gas, and similar gastrointestinal issues.
If you are already susceptible to such issues, be extra careful while consuming nuts. Perhaps, making appropriate dietary changes; in some cases, supplementing with a vegan probiotic supplement may help you with your predisposition to digestive problems.
If you’d want to include them in your diet regardless, try soaking them in water and salt overnight before consuming either an ounce or a handful of them. Keep an eye on your intake, and you should be good!