Ayurveda categorises nuts as nutrient dense and rejuvenating, but also dense and oily. Nuts provide a concentrated punch of good fats, fibre, minerals like selenium, manganese, zinc, magnesium and copper, and essential vitamins… but….
Their dense and oily nature makes them hard to digest!
There, I’ve said it!
Many of my clients come to me with digestive pain, bloating and irregular or difficult bowel movements.
One of the questions I always ask when discussing their eating habits is “Do you snack on nuts?”
“Oh yes,” is often the answer, “they are such an easy and healthy snack!”
Yes nuts are healthy and do give many health benefits, but, often is is the way we eat them that is wrong for our individual body’s needs!
Some nuts like macadamias, cashews and brazil, are on the heavier and oiler end of the scale whilst others, like walnuts, pecans and almonds, are lighter.
If you have a habit of snacking on nuts I encourage you to notice how your belly feels either immediately, or a few hours after.
If snacking on nuts while doing other things, are you even aware of how many you eat?
One small handful of nuts in a sitting is plenty. More will lead to bloating, discomfort and put a strain on your liver and gallbladder.
If you have more of the wind element (Vata) eat less nuts in general and soak your nuts for 6-12 hours before eating to lighten them. The skin of almonds can be irritating to a delicate digestive system. Once soaked you can easily peel the skin off and enjoy a crunchy and light almond that is easier to digest!
I find the trend of activating nuts interesting as it is an ancient tradition that helps us humans to digest nuts well.
Nuts naturally have enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that stop them from sprouting too soon in the wild, but inhibits our ability to digest them well and extract all of their goodness.
These enzyme inhibitors can be neutralised by soaking the nuts in slightly salty water for 7 – 14 hours, depending on the type of nut.
This part, I like! It makes them easier to digest!
The next step, of dehydrating the nuts to dry them out again I do not recommended for Vata individuals whose digestion is already dry. Better for them to enjoy their nuts at the soaking stage.
If you have an abundance of Pitta (fire) then, as much as you may love them, it is wise to avoid roasted nuts. When roasted and salted nuts can be morish, but are even harder for your liver to digest and aggravate the fire element in your body.
Choose raw nuts and be mindful of how many you eat in one go! Enjoy the oilier nuts only occasionally. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are also a good choice to get your extra vitamins and minerals.
If your constitution has more earth and water elements (kapha), then choose the lighter nuts like almonds, walnuts, and peanuts as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Peanuts are actually not a nut but are a legume and are light and dry, until they are turned into paste or butter and then are oily and hard to digest.
Nut butters, in general are tricky to digest. Think of how claggy (if that is a word!) and clogging a tsp of a nut butter feels in your mouth! They are very oily and clog your channels. Nut milks however are a lighter way to enjoy the healthy benefits of nuts.
So, are nuts possibly the culprit for your digestive discomfort?
I hope this info has helped to clarify which nuts are right for you and how to eat your nuts!