How to Make Seeds and Nuts More Digestible

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Pistachios
Pistachios (Image: Sandrith131 at Flickr)

Seeds and nuts are laden with protein, fiber and healthy fats that may cause excess gas and feel heavy in the stomach for some people. Proteins, fibers and fats, of which seeds and nuts are full of, take much longer to digest than carbohydrates. Where starches can take up to two hours, proteins will take 1 ½ to 6 hours to digest and fiber is not digested at all, but passes through the digestive tract. Fat, on the other hand, takes longest of all to digest at only about 10 grams an hour. That’s why nuts and sees are considered good snack foods, they keep you feeling full for a long time. However, for some people, it’s not a matter of just feeling full, but feeling uncomfortable. Is there a solution that will allow these people to enjoy nuts without the feeling of a weight sitting in their stomach?

Roasting, baking or cooking of any kind will help break down the nuts and seeds much as it is done in the digestive tract. This will make it easier for the body to digest. Cooking nuts at a low temperature works best. You can purchase raw nuts and cooking them yourself in a 150 to 170 degree oven. This is better than purchasing pre-roasted nuts. Cooking the nuts and seeds in a high temperature environment, as commercial nuts are, will destroy the good fats that your body needs.

Choosing to stay away from certain nuts with large amounts of tannins may help with digestion. Tannins are not destroyed in heat, so cooking the nuts does not reduce them. If you find that the tannins are the source of your discomfort, you should stay away from walnuts, which carry a very high amount. Also pistachios, cashews and pecans are high in tannins as are the skins on almonds and peanuts.

Soaking nuts in filtered water can remove certain chemicals like enzyme inhibitors. When the water is removed, it merely washes the enzyme inhibitors away. Once these chemicals are removed you may find your original digestive problem is over.

Eating a smaller portion of your favorite nuts or seeds, waiting until your body has a chance to digest it, may be the answer. Also, taking a digestive enzyme before eating them may be helpful. See your local health food store staff for a good digestive enzyme product.

Tips & Warnings

  • To soak nuts and seeds, dissolve 2 teaspoons sea salt into warm filtered water. Pour the water solution over the nuts, enough to cover. Leave them in a warm location for 7 or more hours then dry them in a low heated oven or food dehydrator until crisp.

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