If you love beans but find yourself getting gassy after eating them, you’re not alone — lots of folks report embarrassing side effects of the “magical fruit.” But you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re sacrificing your own physical comfort (and pride) for one of your favorite good-for-you foods. And now you don’t have to! Just keep reading for the the easy tricks that make beans less gassy so you can enjoy them worry-free.
Why do beans cause gas?
Regardless of what type you choose, beans are delicious and filled to the brim with health benefits. A one-cup serving of pinto beans, the most widely eaten bean variety in the United States, contain 15 grams each of fiber and protein, which help with digestion, weight loss, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And that’s significant, considering the typical American only gets 11 grams of fiber daily, even though the recommended daily amount for women is at least 20 grams. The one downside to eating beans? The uncomfortable — and often embarrassing — gas they can cause.
The culprit behind this unpleasant phenomenon? The beans’ skins. “The skins of beans contain a high percentage of complex sugars, which our bodies can’t digest,” says Billy Goldberg, MD. “Once those sugars reach the intestines, they mix with harmless bacteria to create a gaseous vapor.” These sugars are called raffinose, and combine with beans’ high fiber content, which is also hard to digest, you’ve got a recipe for gas.
How to make beans less gassy
Don’t swear off the delicious and nutritious legumes just to avoid gas. Keep reading to learn how to make beans less gassy so you can eat up without the embarrassment or discomfort.
Start with a gut-friendly bean
While most types beans are healthy and delicious, they’re not all created equal. Some kinds of beans are worse offenders than others when it comes to causing gas. If you’re someone who suffers from a sensitive digestive system, or you just want to avoid embarrassing tummy troubles as much as possible, pick your beans wisely.
The easiest beans to digest (therefore less likely to cause gas), according to Country Life Foods, are lentils, black eyed beans, adzuki beans and mung beans. (Click through to learn more about the amazing health benefits of mung beans.)
The harder ones to digest are red kidney, soy, black and lima beans. And if you’re really concerned, opt for canned beans over dried ones, since the canning process breaks down some of the gas-causing carbohydrates, making them easier to digest.
Give beans a good soak and rinse
If you’ve prepped dried beans before, you may already be soaking them overnight before cooking them. This method helps to soften the beans and improves their texture. But the process of soaking, draining and rinsing beans not only makes your beans taste better — it makes you feel better and less gassy afterward, too.
“Soaking beans and legumes reduces the amount of oligosaccharides [a type of carbohydrate] that can cause a lot of the gut disruption,” explains nutritionist Meghan Telpner. She recommends soaking dried beans overnight or for at least eight hours before using. And don’t cook them in their soaking water, she warns. “Using a large colander or strainer, drain your beans and rinse them really, really well. This makes sure you eliminates any starches that were released during that time.” Go ahead and rinse canned beans, too — the liquid in canned beans contains high concentrations of the beans’ gas-causing chemicals, and rinsing them off can reduce their gassiness by 20 percent.
Sprinkle in some baking soda
We know what you’re thinking: Why on earth would I put baking soda in beans? How would that help? As it turns out, baking soda significantly decreases the levels of raffinose, the gas-causing sugar present in beans.
When should you add baking soda to beans? It works best with just a pinch (about 1/16 of a teaspoon) sprinkled into dried beans while they soak in water before cooking.
And even if you don’t struggle with gas after eating beans, the addition of baking soda may help enhance your cooking experience in another way. According to Guy Crosby, PhD, the science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, adding a tiny amount to the cooking water of beans (not the soaking water) can help slash your cooking time in half and also get the soft, creamy texture you want. For this trick, about 1 teaspoon per cup of dry beans does the trick, Dr. Crosby told the Bean Institute. (Try using this trick when making a hearty soup with escarole and beans.)
Add this Ayurvedic spice
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.
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.” That said, the sulfuric aroma does mellow out as it cooks and blends with other flavors of your dish, adding a slight garlic flavor. 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 (Buy from Amazon, $11.99) and it will last you a good long while.
Now that you can enjoy beans without excessive gas, read more about their health benefits!
First For Women aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission. Questions? Reach us at email@example.com