Conventional wisdom once held that, if you had an ulcer, it was because of the foods you ate. Today, though, we know that foods don't cause or heal ulcers, and that includes nuts. There's no evidence that nuts are bad for an ulcer. In general, nuts are good for your health.
"In the past it was thought that nuts were bad for digestion and could aggravate digestive diseases," says Andrew L. Rubman, ND, a naturopathic physician and director of the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines in Southbury, Connecticut. "Although some people may get indigestion from nuts, most people won't as long as they chew them thoroughly. Nuts are worth adding to your diet for their healthy fats, oils and proteins."
Read more: Foods to Avoid When You Have a Stomach Ulcer
Nuts and Ulcers: Possible Benefits
Nuts contain some nutrients that are powerful antioxidants, according to a review published in the journal Nutrients in June 2010. These include tocopherols, phytosterols, folic acid, selenium and magnesium. The reason this could be important for ulcers is due to a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
H. pylori is one of the main causes of ulcers, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. An H. pylori infection can break down the protective coating in the stomach and allow acids to get in and cause an ulcer.
However, a diet rich in antioxidants may help protect against many inflammatory conditions, including ulcers. "Most adults in America have H. pylori in their stomachs, but few people get ulcers," Rubman says. "Antioxidants may help keep these bacteria stable and prevent them from causing an ulcer."
Read more: Meal Plan for Ulcer Patients
Other Benefits of Nuts
Nuts have become a recommended part of people's diets because of the general health benefits they convey. According to the review in Nutrients, nuts — including tree nuts and peanuts — are dense in nutrients and rich in healthy, unsaturated fats. They're also an excellent source of protein, fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
Eating nuts, according to the review, has shown to help reduce the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- General inflammation
Even if you don't have an ulcer, there are many good reasons to add nuts to your diet (unless you have a nut allergy). But many people avoid nuts because they think the fats and oils will cause weight gain.
Studies show, though, that nuts are dense proteins that slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which makes them less likely to contribute to obesity, according to the Nutrients review. They may even help with weight loss.
Is This an Emergency?
- Andrew L. Rubman, ND, naturopathic physician, director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut, and founder and member, House of Delegates, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
- Nutrients: “Health Benefits of Nut Consumption”
- American College of Gastroenterology: “Peptic Ulcer Disease”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)"