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Are nut butters easy to digest?

Nut butters are all the rage. Almond, cashew, walnut, and macadamia butters are all tasty, plant-based, healthy options alongside, of course, the tried-and-true peanut butter we all know and love.

Unfortunately, these delicious spreads don’t always agree with everyone. Many experience acid reflux, gas, bloating, and discomfort after eating, because nuts and nut butters can be difficult to digest. Many of these symptoms occur because, in general, our bodies have a difficult time processing fat.

Also, be aware that problems with nut butters may be the result of allergies. Consult your health care professional if you believe this may be the case.

Now, let us now dive into the potential causes and solutions so you can enjoy your nut butter comfortably.

A family eats peanut butter
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Nut butter: digestion and health benefits

Nut butters are full of healthy fats, which help the body absorb vitamins and store energy that will keep us going throughout the day. However, fats in general, not just those in nut butters, can be difficult on the digestive system. Have you ever felt a stomach ache or heartburn after eating too much fried or oily food? They may taste great, but fat is more difficult for your body’s digestive enzymes to break down.

That being said, moderation is your best friend, so try to stick to the recommended serving sizes and eat slowly to aid in smooth digestion. If eating slowly and reducing the amount of fat in your diet works, congratulations! You can safely continue to reap all the benefits these spreads have to offer — and there are a lot of benefits to enjoy.

Nuts, in general, are high in protein. On average, almond butter contains 3.4 grams per tablespoon and peanut butter contains 3.5 grams. Protein is great for muscle building and is also a great source of energy. Further, these spreads are high in fiber, so in addition to providing energy, they keep you feeling fuller longer. Last, they are chock full of beneficial micronutrients including vitamin B6, folic acid, and potassium.

In the Harvard Heart Letter, Walter Willett, MD, a professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, said nut butter is a terrific addition to most diets:

I try to eat as healthful a diet as I can. It includes all kinds of nuts, as well as peanut and other nut butters… Over the years, numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts.

An assortment of nut butters

How to improve your digestion

If you’re having a problem digesting nut butters, there are a few tried and true methods that reduce your uncomfortable symptoms. As previously mentioned, eating a reduced-fat diet does wonders for your gut, especially if you reduce your intake of trans fats. These fats are more difficult to process than others, so consider switching to powdered peanut butter or other nut butters that don’t contain trans fats. Further, don’t forget that digestion starts in the mouth. Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly ensures your stomach isn’t working too hard to break down large pieces of food.

If these methods don’t work, try keeping a food journal and note how you feel after each meal. This can help you determine if there are any specific foods that cause you more discomfort than others. Additionally, over-the-counter antacids are a short-term solution to heartburn, but they won’t solve what’s causing the symptoms.

Do I have a nut allergy?

If you continue to experience serious discomfort after eating nut butters, even after exhausting all these options, consult a health professional. Gastrointestinal symptoms also are associated with allergic reactions, and thus could be a sign of a nut allergy.

Along with digestive issues, peanut allergy symptoms can include skin rashes and itching, swollen lips, tingling or tightening in the throat, and a runny nose. If you experience any of these symptoms, find emergency medical help. Allergic reactions can increase in severity very quickly, so seek help as soon as you need it.

Nut butters have a range of health benefits and are a key to a delicious dish whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As with any food, be mindful of serving sizes and take your time savoring every bite. As long as you enjoy it in moderation and keep an eye on the serving size, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying them comfortably — no antacid needed.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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