Sam Stewart from Australia’s Gold Coast writes:
“What is it about beans that cause so much gas? What can be done to make them less volatile”
Though beans are nutitionally excellent, they have the unfortunate side effect of causing the formation of gas in the lower digestive tract. This digestive dilemma can be mollified by adopting some or all of the following practices:
Discard the soaking water prior to cooking
Some nutrition (in the form of minerals) is lost, but you are getting rid of up to 80% of the oligosaccharides that cause flatulence. The standard way is to soak the raw, unsoaked beans in cold water overnight (in a cool place to avoid fermentation) then drain them, throw away the soak water and cook in fresh water.
Some cooks suggest that an even better way to remove the oligosaccharides is to bring the unsoaked beans to a boil for 3 minutes, remove from the heat, cover, and allow to soak for 4 hours, then drain and cook in fresh water.
Cook the beans thoroughly
You should be able to easily mash the cooked beans with a fork. Thorough cooking softens starch and fibers, making digestion more efficient, the main reason why refried beans are easier on the digestive system than whole beans.
Give your body time to adjust
If you don’t eat beans often, your body never fully adapts to the extra work required to digest the complex sugars in beans. Beginning with small amounts, try eating beans at least 3 times a week while gradually increasing quantity.
Choose beans that are easier to digest
A general rule is that the sweeter the bean, the easier it is to digest. Adzuki, Anasazi, Black-eyed Peas, Lentils, and Mung beans top the list. The most difficult beans to digest include Navy, Limas, and whole cooked Soybeans.
Cook beans with a bay leaf, cumin, epazote, or kombu
Certain herbs have gas-reducing properties, with epazote being one of the most effective. Add 2 teaspoons dry or 6 fresh leaves to a pot of beans before cooking. Kombu sea vegetable also works well and has the added advantage of replenishing some of the minerals lost in soaking. Add a two-inch strip per one cup of dried beans during cooking. A couple of bay leaves simmered with cooked beans is also excellent. Asafetida, ginger and cumin are also excellent additions later in the cooking process, when the beans are seasoned, to counter the oligosaccharides.
Avoid beans that are cooked with added sweeteners, or come in a can.
Some people who easily digest most freshly cooked beans have trouble with canned or sweetened beans due to the way they are prepared and due to added carbohydrates. The famous baked beans are navy beans (hard to digest for a start) that have been cooked without discarding the soaking water AND with extra sweetener added – a very explosive combination.
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