You know the old saying, “Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you…” For many, the saying has taken on a whole new meaning, forgetting the heart healthy part of the saying and only focusing on the gassy side effect. This is unfortunate because beans really are good for your heart!
Beans are a wonderful, versatile way to add high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. They are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium,potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and colorectal cancer. They also help with weight management because of their high fiber content. Nevertheless, that gassy feeling you may get when consuming beans certainly isn’t pleasant. So, how can you reduce the gassy side-effect and increase digestibility?
The most important thing is to soak your beans and thoroughly rinse them. If you buy canned, which are already pre-cooked and soaked in water, be sure to thoroughly rinse them prior to use. As you can see from the photo, you don’t want all these gas bubbles to end up in your digestive system.
Here are some tips for cooking dry beans:
Beans stay fresh longer when stored in a cool, dark place (rather than on your countertop). Don’t use beans that are more than a year old, as their nutrient content and digestibility are much lower. Also, old beans will not soften, even with thorough cooking.
1. Check beans for rocks and broken beans, then rinse.
2. Soak for six hours or overnight, using cups of water per cup of beans. Small and medium-size beans may require less soaking—four hours. NOTE: If you’ve forgotten to presoak the beans, you can bring them to a boil in ample water to cover. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let stand for one hour.
3. Drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Always discard any loose skins before cooking, as this will increase digestibility.
4. Place the beans in a heavy pot and add 3 to 4 cups fresh water.
5. Bring to a full boil and skim off the foam.
6. Add a small piece of kombu (seaweed) and a few bay leaves or garlic cloves for flavor and better digestibility.
7. Cover, lower the temperature and simmer for the suggested time. Check beans 30 minutes before the minimum cooking time. Beans are done when the middle is soft and easy to squeeze.
8. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking time, add 1 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt.
9. Cook until beans are tender as directed on bean packaging.
Some other digestive tips:
Chew beans thoroughly and know that even small amounts have high nutritional and healing value.
Try to avoid giving legumes to children under 18 months because they have not developed the gastric enzymes to digest them properly. Except in the case of an allergy, soybean products, fresh peas and green beans are usually tolerated.
Experiment with your ability to digest beans. Smaller beans like adzuki, lentils, mung beans and peas digest most easily. Pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, lima and black beans are harder to digest and should be eaten only occasionally. Soybeans and black soybeans are the most difficult beans to digest.
With a proper preparation and planning, you can enjoy beans without the negative side-effects. They make a great replacement for animal protein and add much-needed fiber that animal protein doesn’t offer. Try making at least one day a week a vegetarian day and enjoy the wonderful benefits of beans!
Would you like additional assistance with your diet or nutrition? Please contact me for a free consultation!