Chickpea! Spilling the Beans

[donotprint] Over the past few months I’ve been working with a number of people, encouraging them to introduce more whole plant foods, reducing their meat, dairy, sugar and wheat intakes according to their individual needs. One element which they’ve all embraced is incorporating beans in to their diet!

Previously tinned baked beans would have been the extent of bean consumption for the majority of them, while at the same time loading up on plenty of fresh veggies!

The result…. “chickpeas”…the term now coined to mean gas, wind…flatulence! They’re bodies simply aren’t used to consuming the fibre rich food and although none of them have cited any bloating or discomfort their other halves (and those who workout with them in the gym) are getting a little put off by the formidable unavoidable waft!

Beans such as kidney beans, the harder ones have a complex sugar, oligosaccharides, which are impossible to digest; humans do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase needed to properly break it down. They ferment in the lower intestine and the result is…you guessed it, gas!

Beans also contain phytic acid; the storage form of phosphorus in plants. It’s another substance we can’t digest but which is broken down to some extent by cooking beans properly and even more so if they are soaked and sprouted.

Here are my Top Ten Tips to Reduce the Windy Effects of the fibre, vitamin and mineral, not forgetting protein rich super food! Low GI, rich in antioxidants, low in fat you they’re a dietary staple we just need to re-learn to digest!

We all know the lyrics…they’re good for the heart…the latter part can be strictly limited and potentially avoided altogether! Smile

  1. Drink up – drink a glass of water about 15 minutes before digging in to beans…
  2. Slowly does it – build up the portion size slowly!
  3. Chew Thoroughly – making it easier to digest them further down the line!
  4. Spice them – Try adding fennel, cilantro, turmeric, anise, rosemary or bay leaf to your bean dishes; these spices will help break down the oligosaccharides!
  5. Rinse and Rinse again – if using tinned beans which less face it the majority of us do most of the time, make sure to rinse them twice over. The liquid can enhance the flatulence effects!
  6. Eat with other proteins and grains – it’s claimed that this also makes them easier to digest! Quinoa would be a good option!
  7. Avoid other culprits – cabbage, garlic and onions are well known for their gaseous causing agents. Avoid combining them with beans, particularly when you’re not used to consuming them as well as any other foods that affect you in the same way.
  8. Grind them – blend beans in to purees to form hummus, spreads and dips. This will break down the fibre making them easier to digest.
  9. Get soupy – eating beans in soups and stews will ensure a smoother transition, quite literally! The liquid will soften the fibre and due to them having been cooked with other ingredients seemingly makes them more digestible.
  10. Eat fruit or sugar foods seperately – fruit and sugar will be much more quickly digested then protein and fibre rich beans. They should be consumed 2-3 hours away from a meal with beans otherwise they will ferment and contribute to the gaseous effects potentially causing discomfort.

It’s not worth missing out on their super powers!

What’s your top bean eating tip and your favourite bean dish?  [/donotprint]

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  1. Good tips. I find pre-soaking dried beans and cooking them with kombu to help, too. My favourite dish is probably dal bhat (red lentils with cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, etc) but it is hard to pick just one. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the tips! I eat so may beans and sometimes my roommates face the consequences. It is exciting to now know that all of the side effects are avoidable! I’m curious to try sprouting beans sometime. How exactly do I sprout them?