Have the gaseous effects of the consumption of beans, lentils and peas resulted in your avoidance of these highly nutritious foods?
Why eat beans in the first place? Beans are:
- High in protein: ½ cup of beans is equivalent to approximately 50g of lean animal protein.
- High in fibre: ½ cup of cooked dry beans has 4-10 grams of fibre.
- Rich in complex carbohydrates.
- Rich in antioxidants.
- A low glycemic index meal aiding in blood sugar balance.
Beans are also high in iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium, but also contain a high amount of phytic acid, which binds to these essential minerals so they cannot be absorbed by the gut. Beans also contain 3 sugars, namely stachyose, raffinose and verbascose, that we cannot digest due to a missing digestive enzyme. Therefore, when these sugars reach our colon they are fermented by the natural bacteria which reside there and the bi-product of this fermentation process is the dreaded gas!
Beans have been the main staple of many cultural diets for thousands of years. The preparation of beans and lentils is key to avoiding an uncomfortable and sometimes very embarrassing gas production, and to maximise the nutritional benefit of these tasty legumes. Soaking dried beans for a minimum of 12 hours substantially reduces the amount of phytic acid contained in beans. The beans should be drained and rinsed several times to rid the phytic acid, which leaches into the water. The soaking process also helps to break down those troublesome sugars which are so readily fermented by gut bacteria leading to a wind and discomfort free aftermath of bean consumption. Also, beans need to be cooked for a minimum of 2 hours to further breakdown all of the anti-nutrients or all day in the slow cooker may be a good option.
Here is a guide to how beans and lentils should be prepared and how to plan ahead of meals to avoid discomfort.
Cooking Beans & Lentils
- 2 Dried Beans or Lentils
- 2 Water
- Wash beans in cold water and soak overnight in three times the volume of water.
- Next day, pour off the water.
- Place beans in a pot and cover with water 1 inch above the level of the beans.
- Bring to a boil.
- Let simmer with lid ajar.
- Skim off the foam.
- Add more water if necessary. Beans should always be covered with water while cooking.
- Cooking time will vary according to the type, size and age of the bean.
- Most beans will need approximately 2 hours cooking time. Lentils will take between 30 minutes to one hour.
- Beans or lentils should be soft; this is when they are cooked. This is the stage that you can salt and other seasonings. Do not add salt while cooking as above.
Stay tuned for some great recipes for your pre-soaked and cooked legumes!