Whether you’re digging into a bowl of chili or enjoying a side of black beans with your Mexican dinner, we all know the “musical fruit” can have a nasty side effect when it comes to our bodies releasing gassy buildup. Many people just accept flatulence as an unavoidable trade-off when it comes to enjoying fiber-packed legumes. However, the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda might have the solution to this stinky issue.
Like triphala, another Ayurvedic supplement, people have turned to asafoetida to help maintain their gut health for centuries. Also known as hing, asafoetida comes from the resin of fennel plants that’s then ground down into a powder. A 2012 study published in Pharmacognosy Reviews described the herb as “one of the best remedies available for flatulence and is an essential ingredient for most of the digestive powders.” There’s no mistaking that as a glowing review for this powerful spice. Homeopathic doctor and Ayurvedic nutritionist Sunita Mohan, HD, RNCP, also listed antioxidant effects and anti-cancer benefits of asafoetida while writing for the Dr. Oz blog.
Before you go adding a hefty dash of asafoetida to your next meal with beans, we should warn you: This powder is known for being particularly pungent. With a strong smell of onion and sulphur, it's earned the nickname "devil’s dung." Carolyn Beans described her introduction to the spice for NPR saying, “To me, the aroma was far from gag-inducing, but it takes a real leap of faith to add it to food.” Don’t get scared away too quickly, though, as she added, “Once you make that leap, magical things happen.” Not only does it help ward off embarrassing flatulence, but it also helps elevate the other spices your recipe includes.
The good news is that you only need a small pinch of asafoetida to reap its rewards. You can find jars of the spice for modest prices at Indian markets or online ($11.99, Amazon) and it will last you a good long while. The sulfuric aroma also mellows out as it cooks and blends with other flavors of your dish. Carolyn Beans described it as a “leek and garlic-like flavor,” which doesn’t sound bad to us. If you’ve ever avoided your favorite recipes because of beans, broccoli, or other gas-inducing ingredients, you might want to try adding a smidgen of this spice to the dish.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to savor both a new and unique flavor without any offending toots following behind.
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