Q: Is there a way to eat beans without getting gassy?
A: Yes! To make beans more digestible, you want to make sure you soak, cook and use carminative herbs. Check out the 5 steps + additional tips below :)
Steps to Make Beans More Digestible
1. Soak Beans. Soak beans 8 hours/overnight. Since beans are seeds in their dormant form, all seeds need water in order to germinate. Soaking beans is thus the 1st step in the germination process. In order to help tenderize beans, even at this early stage, you can add in a piece of kombu or kelp.
2. Sprout Beans. Optional but Highly Recommended, especially if you have some kind of digestive compromise. Sprouting beans is really simple: simply drain and rinse beans and leave them to germinate in a colander (i.e., to develop "tails."). Different beans have different germination times e.g. chickpeas 1 day, lentils 3-4 days, black beans 5-6 days. Be sure to rinse beans with water 2x a twice (morning and evening).
What you are essentially doing is germinating the seeds (beans) hydroponically, that is, just using water. Using a colander is a dirt cheap method of sprouting beans, but there are other methods you can use as well, including using an automatic sprouter. You can find out more about different germination times and other methods used HERE.
If you have digestive compromise, you really want to sprout your beans before consuming them. The reason? Sprouting means you are breaking down the molecular structure of the beans (seeds), that is, the seeds are slowly growing to become plants. Sprouting therefore makes beans much more digestible than not sprouting them.
3. Cook OR Blanch Beans. If you've chosen to sprout your beans, you may be able to blanch beans for 5-10 minutes and not get any gassy symptoms. Blanching will help to remove the bitter taste from the sprouted beans ---and some believe that the short cooking time means that more vitamins and minerals are preserved. However, you can still go ahead and cook your beans, and you'll want to cook them well especially if you have any kind of digestive issue. If you only soaked the beans, you'll definitely be needing to cook them before eating them!
Beans do have different cooking times, and you can consult this chart HERE to see how long to cook them for. Generally, small beans like lentils take 30-45 minutes while larger beans like black eyed peas require 2-3 hours of cooking. You can always cook beans (any size) using a crock pot. Simply add beans and water to cover and cook on Low 6-8 hours.
Did you add a 3-inch strip of kelp/kombu to the water when you soaked your beans? If you did, just add it in to the cooking water and let everything cook on up. If you didn't, consider adding a piece now in order to make beans more tender.
4. Add in Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). In order to further help break down the sugars in the beans, consider adding in 1-2 TBsp of ACV to the cooking water. The acid in the vinegar will help to tenderize the beans. No need to use ACV with "mother," but you can if you like.
5. Use Carminative Herbs. There are many common herbs that are known to counter gassiness, so adding them to the cooking pot is highly beneficial. Warming herbs include Mexican, Thai and Indian spices, such as Ginger, Fennel and Cumin. Cooling Mediterranean/Italian spices include Oregano, Thyme and Basil. Mint and Coriander are two other cooling spices you can use. If you are using beans to make desserts, consider using the warming spices of Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves and Anise. Finally, you might be interested in the herb Epazote, also known as Wormseed. It has both bitter and vermifuge properties and is commonly added in Mexican cuisine to curb gassiness. Add in a few fresh leaves or 1-2 tsp of dried herb.
6. Additional Tips To Ensure a GAS-less Experience
7. Still Can't Tolerate Beans? Go For Bean Tea.
In Chinese medicine, beans are known as an excellent food to reduce dampness in the body and for weight loss. Beans are therefore helpful with vaginal secretions, candida, edema, nasal drip and excess weight. Beans are also chock-full of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and a host of other minerals.
If despite soaking, sprouting and cooking beans, you still get gas, then get in the benefits by drinking the cooking water, that is, bean tea. To do: Use 1 cup of beans (best ones: mung or aduki beans) + 6 cups water. Let come to a boil, then simmer on low covered for 2-3 hours. Strain out liquid (a nut milk bag comes in handy for this). Drink 1-3 cups throughout the day. Feel free to dilute the "tea" with additional water if you like.
8. Tried Bean Tea and Still Can't Handle the Beans? IF ALL FAILS you need to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria before investing in the bean experience again! Consider following FODMAPs, Paleo-Autoimmune or the GAPS diet. Don't worry, once you've rebuilt your digestive system, there'll be plenty more beanful days ahead :)
is a Health Practitioner with a Background in Chinese Medicine. Get in Some of her Savvy Adivce When She Answers Your Health Question.
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