The new 2010 U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines recommend that you include nuts and seeds in your diet to help lower the risk of heart disease. However, you should try to limit your intake of nuts to a small portion in order to save calories and prevent indigestion. As a high-fat and high-fiber food, nuts are difficult to digest and can cause some abdominal discomfort if you eat too many.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a gastric condition that causes abdominal discomfort after you eat. Symptoms vary from heartburn, gas, a feeling of fullness and nausea to vomiting and diarrhea. It can affect anyone at any age. If you often experience indigestion after you eat, it may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a peptic ulcer or gallbladder disease. You should consult your physician to help determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
While a medical condition may be the underlying cause of your indigestion, for most people, it is caused by the food they eat. Eating too much or too quickly can cause stomach upset, as well as eating a very high-fat meal, such as too many nuts. Indigestion can also occur if you're eating under stressful conditions. In addition, alcohol and caffeine can cause indigestion and worsen symptoms. If food is the reason you experience indigestion, making changes to the way you eat can help clear up your symptoms. Try eating small frequent meals, limit the fat in your meals and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Most of the calories in nuts, up to 95 percent in the Brazil nut, for example, comes from its fat content. Fat in food takes longer for your body to digest, slowing down the rate at which it leaves the stomach. The longer the nuts sit in your stomach, the greater your risk of indigestion. In addition to the fat, nuts are also a good source of fiber. Like fat, fiber also takes longer to digest, which can exacerbate indigestion.
Nuts make a healthy addition to your diet; however, it's important that you limit portions to the recommended 1 oz. serving. Doing so may help improve your tolerance, enabling you to enjoy the flavor of the nut along with its health benefits.
- Cleveland Clinic; Indigestion; December 2009
- GRANDtimes.com; Indigestion: Be Good to Your Gut-Control Diet & Stress; Pat Baird; 1996
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dietry Guidelines for Americans, 2010; Foods and Nutrients to Increase
- University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Lancaster County; Nuts for Nutrition; Alice Henneman