Avoiding Beans to Avoid Uncomfortable Moments?
Here's how to enjoy beans without the bloat and gas!
Anyone following a plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian diet would know how crucial beans are in their diet.
Besides soy products, beans are a significant protein provider and are the base for many meals.
READ MORE: The Best Vegan Protein Sources
Beans are also high in fiber which is essential for optimal gut health, keeping you full and regular. And contain nutrients and minerals our body needs to function optimally.
Oh, and it is super affordable and convenient!
There's just one problem... Beans can make you, uhum, gassy...
Bloating, cramping, gas, and indigestion are common after-effects of eating beans, making you feel uncomfortable and maybe a tad bit embarrassed ;-)
So how can you make beans less gassy, and what are the easiest beans to digest??
THE EASIEST BEANS TO DIGEST
When it comes to incorporating beans into your diet, considering the ease of digestion is crucial for many individuals. Among the variety of legumes available, some stand out as the easiest beans to digest.
Known for their mild flavor and tender texture, mung beans are rich in nutrients and gentle on the digestive system. These beans are low in oligosaccharides, a complex carbohydrate that can contribute to digestive discomfort in some people.
Lentils, especially the red and yellow varieties, are celebrated for their digestibility. They contain fewer compounds that contribute to gas and bloating, making them a friendly option for those with sensitive stomachs.
Black-eyed peas, with their slightly sweet taste, are also easy on the digestive system, boasting a lower level of indigestible fibers.
Adzuki beans, small and red, are rich in nutrients and easier to digest compared to some larger beans.
Anasazi beans, with their appealing speckled appearance, are not only visually enticing but also easier on the digestive tract, containing fewer fermentable sugars.
Chickpeas, a staple in many cuisines, are generally well-tolerated, especially when soaked and cooked properly, offering a good source of protein and fiber without causing excessive bloating.
beans hard to digest
Some beans are notorious for causing digestive discomfort due to certain compounds, like oligosaccharides and lectins. Here are a few examples of beans that are often harder to digest:
While black beans are a nutritious choice, they also contain oligosaccharides. Soaking and proper cooking can help reduce these compounds and make them more digestible.
Like other white beans, navy beans can be harder to digest for some people due to their oligosaccharide content. Soaking and cooking thoroughly can help mitigate this.
Lima/ Butter Beans
Lima beans are rich in oligosaccharides, a type of complex carbohydrate that can lead to gas and bloating in some individuals.
Soybeans are generally considered to be more challenging to digest compared to some other beans. They contain compounds such as oligosaccharides and trypsin inhibitors that can contribute to digestive discomfort in some individuals.
Fava beans contain a compound called vicine, which some people may find difficult to digest. Additionally, they contain lectins, which can be problematic for some individuals.
Kidney Beans (red and white)
Kidney beans contain a higher amount of lectins, which can be harsh on the digestive system. Eating them raw or undercooked can be especially problematic, as raw kidney beans contain toxins that can cause nausea and other digestive issues.
WHY ARE BEANS HARD TO DIGEST?
Beans are hard to digest due to two compounds - Lectins and oligosaccharides.
Most beans contain plant compounds called lectins, a family of proteins known for targeting sugars in the body. High-lectin foods can cause gas, bloating, and cramping. These can include beans, legumes, grains, and nightshade vegetables.
Beans such as kidney and navy beans also contain oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are complex sugars that are impossible to digest without some help, as humans do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase needed to break them down properly.
This does not mean you should avoid all lectin-containing foods; you will miss out on many health benefits,
Instead, choose those with the least amount of lectins and lower in gas-producing carbohydrates and apply techniques to make beans less gassy.
HOW TO MAKE BEANS LESS GASSY
Buy The Most Digestible Beans With Lower Lectin Levels------
If you are sensitive to beans but still want to reap all the benefits, lentils, mung beans, and black-eyed beans are your best bet. Avoid beans higher on the spectrum, like soybeans and red kidney beans.
Introduce Beans Slowly To The Gut------
Beans are high in fiber, which can cause serious discomfort if your gut is not used to fiber. Start with half a cup of digestive-friendly beans every other day and see how your gut feels. If you're eating a higher lectin bean, start with a smaller serving size.
Soak Your Beans------
By soaking beans overnight, you will remove a good amount of the gas-producing carbohydrates and lectins. Soak for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight for up to 12 hours. Chickpeas can go as long as 24 hours as they take the longest to soften. Rinsing after soaking is crucial to get rid of all the residue.
Sprout Your Beans------
Another way to make beans more digestible is by sprouting them. Sprouting also makes the nutrients in beans more bioavailable as beans change from a protective capsule of a seed into a growing plant.
READ MORE: The Best Seeds To Sprout
Always Cook Beans------
Never eat beans raw; cook them to eliminate most of the lectins. Pressure cooking is a fantastic way to break down lectins for a smooth digestive experience. If you are using canned beans, rinse them thoroughly to remove the complex sugars that are difficult to digest and cause gas.
Add Kombu Or Wakame Seaweed When Cooking------
Seaweed helps to break down components, like phytic acid and lectins, that make beans and legumes harder to digest.
Add Spices To Help With Digestion------
Adding spices such as ginger, cumin, and turmeric to your dishes can help digestion. And it's best to avoid fruit or anything sugary with your beans as this causes fermentation in the gut.