Myth Debunking: Beans cause gas

black beans

Beans are an important part of my diet as a legume with a high fiber and protein content.[1] I eat them daily, and it hadn’t crossed my mind recently that they may cause gas, until the subject came up during work discussions surrounding our Cinco de Mayo potluck preparations. Since then, I’ve been wondering: are beans a musical fruit that makes you toot?

A recent research study found that the myth that beans make people gassy is vastly exaggerated. Less than 50% of participants became more gassy when they introduced beans into their diet, and black-eyed peas specifically caused less than 19% of participants to become flatulent.[2] So while one type of bean may make you fart, your body may react differently to another kind of beans.

Another study found that if you pre-soak beans prior to cooking them you actually allow them to ferment a little, which introduces bacteria that prevents flatulence.[3][4] Therefore, the gas you may experience after eating beans could also be caused as a result of how they were prepared.

About two months ago, I slow-cooked a large batch of pre-soaked beans and packaging them in 2-cup zip-locks to freeze and eat later. I tend to eat about 2 cups of black beans a week, which is why I packaged them in that quantity. I never expected that cooking my own beans, instead of eating canned beans, would reduce the odds of gassiness – this is yet another example of the unintentional positive effects of avoiding processed food.  I thought that I was just avoiding sodium!

For some people, beans may cause gas, but for most of us they are a healthy, filling food that can be eaten regularly with no worries. Additionally, if you do have symptoms of flatulence, pre-soaking beans and cooking them can naturally help your body deter the gas. It’s worth the effort given their nutritional benefits, which include high-quality protein, low fat and high-fiber content.[5]

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