Are Nuts Hard to Digest?

A

Raw nuts are relatively hard to digest because they contain phytates and tannins (antinutrients that bind to minerals). 

Soaked and cooked nuts are fairly easy to digest for most people, and only cause stomach issues like gas and bloating in those with a nut intolerance or allergy.

If you’d like more details about how hard nuts are to digest, read on.

Can Nuts Cause Digestive Problems?

There are 2 main ways that nuts can cause digestive problems.

All raw nuts contain antinutrients like phytates and tannins. Peanuts are legumes, which have the same potential issue.

In particular, these bind to minerals and make digestion more difficult.

Antinutrients aren’t really anything to fear, but for some they can make digestion difficulties even worse.

Phytates and other nutrients can be reduced by a combination of soaking (literally just soaking raw nuts in water), sprouting, and cooking.

The other potential cause of digestive problems from eating nuts is their high fat content. Eating a lot of fat in a short term period can lead to bloating, gas, and even diarrhea.

SUMMARY

Nuts are usually eaten in small quantities and don’t typically cause digestive issues. However, they contain a high level of fat and antinutrients, and these can become a problem in larger servings (especially for smaller people).

Do Nuts Cause Bloating?

high fat nuts

Bloating and gas are typically the result of a food sensitivity (i.e. intolerance).

A food intolerance is different from an allergy because there’s no immune system reaction. Instead, some component of the food is causing a physical reaction like bloating, gas, heartburn, and so on.

The most common elimination diets remove the most common triggers from people’s diets:

  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Fish

Developing a nut allergy or intolerance is a realistic possibility.

The above foods account for about 90% of all food allergies.

SUMMARY

Nuts don’t typically cause bloating in most people. However, if you have an intolerance or slight allergy to nuts, they can cause stomach issues like bloating and gas.

Does Roasting Nuts Make Them Easier to Digest?

soaking beans

As we’ve seen, the biggest thing that can make nuts hard to digest aside from a food allergy or intolerance is the relatively high antinutrient content – particularly phytates.

Research has shown that soaking raw nuts before eating them (cooked or not) is the most effective way to reduce phytate content.

Cooking also reduces phytates; the higher the cooking temperature, the more phytate content is reduced. This means that roasting, which is typically done at high temperatures, will make nuts easier to digest.

Finally, consider that roasted nuts often have ingredients added to them (e.g. seasonings, sugar, etc.). Depending on your individual response to these added ingredients, it can make digestion harder as well.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.