Beans: An overnight soak can reduce gas

Bean consumption helps with appetite control, fighting certain cancers and heart disease, regulating blood glucose and insulin levels and improving digestive functions.

Are you afraid to eat beans because of the potential gaseous aftermath? According to the Mayo Clinic legume guide, boiling beans for two to three minutes and then covering for an overnight soak can result in 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible sugars being dissolved into the water. Draining this soak water and then rinsing the beans until the rinse water is clear can minimize post-bean consumption flatulence.

Why go to all this trouble to get rid of this side effect? Beans can be extremely beneficial to those interested in appetite control, fighting certain cancers, fighting heart disease and lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, regulating blood glucose and insulin levels, improving digestive functions and eating low-fat and low-cholesterol foods.

In a 2001 study out of Tulane University in Louisiana, researchers examined the effect of legume consumption on cardiovascular disease. For 19 years, the researchers followed study participants and found those who ate legumes (dry beans, peas, or peanuts) at least four times each week had a reduced risk of 21 percent for having coronary heart disease than those who ate them less than once a week.

Beans pack a protein plus fiber combination that supports blood sugar balance and regulation. Due to the low-glycemic index value of beans, consuming beans results in lower but more sustained increases in blood glucose and lower insulin demands. Due to the digestibility, beans can move through the digestive system in a more moderate pace, thus reducing strain to any specific part of the digestive tract. With better breakdown of food, extremes in simple sugar uptake from the digestive tract can be minimized.

The Michigan Bean Commission provides the nutritional breakdown for many of the varieties of beans grown here in Michigan. For some quick facts about Michigan beans, visit the Michigan Bean Commission website.

In some research studies black beans in particular have been found to lower colon cancer risk which may be related to the outstanding indigestible fraction (IF) content of this legume. Some studies show the IF of this legume is higher than lentils or chickpeas. One cup of black beans provides over 4 grams of soluble fiber, the type of fiber that is especially beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Black beans are also high in phytonutrients (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection) and provide health benefits to our cardiovascular system.

Beans can be found in cans and ready to eat or in the uncooked form in most grocery stores. Some great recipes for black beans can be found at the following links. Enjoy!

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