How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (2022)

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Beans are high in fiber and a good source of plant-based protein. They’re also inexpensive, filling, and may help to prevent several types of chronic disease.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (1)

However, there’s one potential drawback, and it’s a big one:

Eating legumes can cause gas.

Luckily, you don’t have to let fear of digestive distress stop you from eating this nutritious food. There are ways to prepare them that reduce the potential for causing gas!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Do Beans Cause Gas?
  • Tips for Prepping and Eating Beans to Reduce Gas
  • What About Adding Baking Soda?
  • How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas

Why Do Beans Cause Gas?

First, let’s talk about why they’re so gassy.

Beans contain a complex sugar called raffinose that the body can’t fully digest.

Normally, sugars like raffinose would be digested in the small intestine. However, since humans lack the enzyme to break it down, raffinose makes its way from the small into the large intestine still intact.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (2)

Once in the large intestine, gut bacteria begin breaking it down, producing hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gas. What happens next is what you’re already familiar with: bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas.

So, how do you reduce gas? By breaking down raffinose before it hits the large intestine.

Tips for Prepping and Eating Beans to Reduce Gas

If you enjoy eating lovely legumes and want to include them in your diet (and I highly recommend that you do so, for vegetarians and omnivores alike!), there are several steps you can take and things you can do to decrease the risk of suffering from uncomfortable gas as a result.

(Video) Gasless Beans “Cooking Beans and eliminating gas”

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (3)

Here are my top tips for prepping and eating them:

1. Soak Before Cooking

Studies have shown that soaking dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking can help to reduce the quantity of raffinose sugars.

The key is to discard the water after soaking, and use fresh water for cooking. Less raffinose in your soup or chili will help to make the legumes easier to digest.

2. Gradually Add Beans to Your Diet

Beans are high in fiber. While this is a good thing, it can also cause bloating and discomfort if your body isn’t used to eating and digesting higher amounts of fiber regularly.

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So, rather than jumping right into a big bowl of chili or hearty soup, start slow by adding a small amount as a garnish to your tacos or salads at first, and then gradually increase your portions as your body adjusts.

You can also choose to serve them as a small side dish, rather than as the main course. Consider our chickpea and black bean salad as the perfect accompaniment to your favorite grilled meat.

3. Drink Plenty of Water

As most of the unwanted GI symptoms related to eating legumes are due to fermentation in the large intestine, one way to reduce symptoms is to keep everything moving through your system in a timely fashion.

Drinking plenty of water will help to keep everything running smoothly, giving the bacteria in your intestines less time to produce those pesky gasses.

So the next time you’re enjoying a big plateful of sausage, kale, and white bean pasta, be sure to keep those glasses full of water, with a pitcher at the dinner table!

4. Chew Thoroughly

While we usually think about the stomach and intestines when we think about digestion, this process actually starts in the mouth. Chewing helps to break food down into smaller pieces, so that nutrients can be digested and absorbed more easily.

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Chew your food thoroughly to improve digestion. This doesn’t have to be an obsessive task, but eating more mindfully without distractions like the television can help us to more thoroughly enjoy our food, and sitting down to eat can help us to slow down.

5. Consider Digestive Enzymes

Even if you follow all of these tips, you may be one of the unlucky individuals that’s especially sensitive to gas formation from legumes.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (6)

Beano Food Enzyme Dietary Supplement Tablets, 100-Count Bottles, Pack of 2, available on Amazon

If that’s the case, you may want to consider taking an over-the-counter digestive enzyme like Beano, which is available on Amazon. These supplements provide the enzymes our bodies are missing, to help break down raffinose sugar before it is fermented by bacteria in the gut.

(Video) HOW TO DE-GAS THOSE MAGIC BEANS - “THE BASICS”

What About Adding Baking Soda?

A common trick for reducing gas is to add baking soda to the cooking water, as it helps to soften the skins.

While some studies have shown improvements in digestion as a result, others haven’t found a significant difference when baking soda was used.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (7)

Personally, the only differences I’ve noticed when using baking soda are that the beans cook faster, and don’t hold their shape quite as well.

So, while you can try adding 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per pound of dried beans during cooking, results are not guaranteed, and you’ll want to keep a closer eye on the the cooking time and texture of your legumes as well.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas

Now that your beans have been soaked or prepped, and you have strategies in mind to change or improve your eating habits with the goal of better digestion in mind, it’s time to cook those legumes!

What You’ll Need

  • Dried beans
  • Colander
  • Bowl with a lid or plastic wrap
  • Saucepan or large pot with a lid
  • Optional: herbs and spices

A few notes:

  • If cooking a smaller amount, use a medium-sized saucepan. If you’re making a whole bag, use a large stockpot.
  • I like to soak them in a glass bowl with a cover, and then transfer them to a pot for cooking. But you can also soak and cook in the same pot. Just make sure to change out the water before cooking.

Step 1 – Soak

I explained this briefly above, and the purpose behind it. Here, I’ll go into a little more detail for you.

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Before you get started, quickly sort through your beans to remove any rocks or debris.

Next, add the dried beans to a bowl or saucepan

(Video) How to Cook Pinto Beans and Eliminate the Gas They Cause

Cover with warm water. As a general rule of thumb, for every cup of dried beans, add 4 cups of water.

Cover the pot or bowl and set it aside on the counter at room temperature. Let them soak for 8-12 hours.

Step 2 – Drain and Rinse

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After soaking, pour everything into a colander to drain. Rinse them well with cold water, and return the beans to the pot.

Step 3 – Cook

Add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches, and place your pot on the stove.

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Bring to a boil over high heat, boil for 30 seconds, and then quickly reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Cook for 45-60 minutes. Larger or older beans may take an extra 10-15 minutes to cook.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (11)

Should the lid be on or off? It depends on the texture you’re looking for.

  • For softer beans that are slightly mushy, simmer with the lid on.
  • For slightly firmer beans that retain their shape, keep the lid off.

Step 4 – Add Digestion-Friendly Spices

There’s no solid scientific evidence that these herbs and spices will prevent gas when eating beans, and this step is optional. However, traditional medicine, as well as some recent studies, have suggested that these spices may help with digestion and abdominal discomfort.

How to Cook Beans to Reduce Gas | Foodal (12)

Plus, they can add a nice flavor to your beans!

Spices to try:

Simply add 1 teaspoon of one of these herbs or spices to your cooked beans, or more to taste. My two go-to’s are cumin and ginger.

Ground cumin works especially well if you’ll be using them in a Mexican-inspired dish, such as quesadillas or burrito bowls. Ginger-spiced white beans provide a flavorful and easy way to add more fiber and plant-based protein to a veggie stir-fry.

(Video) How to Cook Beans from Scratch to Reduce Lectins

Step 5 – Keep Leftovers in the Freezer

Rather than worrying about making de-gassed beans every time I need them for a recipe, I like to make all my beans in one weekend.

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I keep prepped beans that I’ll eat throughout the week ahead in an airtight container in the fridge. Then I divide the rest into separate airtight containers, each filled with enough for a future weeks’ meals, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

To thaw, simply move one container to the fridge the night before you plan to cook with or eat them.

Simple Strategies with Welcome Results

Don’t let a past uncomfortable experience with gas scare you off forever. With a few dietary changes and simple strategies, our tips and cooking suggestions will help you to eat the beans you enjoy, with less digestive upset as a result.

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Ready to eat more beans? They can be added to a variety of dishes. Get started with some of our favorite recipes:

  • Chili Lime Chicken with Black Beans and Rice
  • Black Bean and Mango Tropical Quinoa
  • Hearty and Flavorful Vegetarian Burrito Bowls

Let us know if these tips work for you by leaving a comment below!

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

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About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

(Video) Eliminating Gas From Dried Beans Is So Easy!!

FAQs

How do you cook beans so they are not gassy? ›

But most people can enjoy more beans with less gas with the help of these tips: Soak beans overnight in water, then drain, rinse and cook in fresh water. This decreases the oligosaccharide content. Cooking the beans in a pressure cooker may reduce the oligosaccharides even further.

How much baking soda do you add to beans to prevent gas? ›

Usually, you only use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda to a pound of beans. The best way to reduce the problem is simply to eat more beans. People who eat beans regularly have the least trouble digesting them.

Does putting a carrot in beans reduce gas? ›

Recipe Details

The quickest way of getting rid of the gas is really simple. It is a vegetable ingredient that no one ever expects to use; a carrot. When boiling the beans throw in a well washed carrot skin into the water and this will absorb the gas efficiently.

How do you make beans more digestible? ›

Whether you sprouted them or soaked them try to cook them over low heat for a very long time. A slow-cooker works well, as does a low-heat in an oven or on a burner. Cooking beans all day gives them time to break down those hard-to-digest fibers.

Does vinegar reduce gas in beans? ›

"Gas production is normal, albeit for some people, uncomfortable." Bottom line: Adding baking soda or vinegar to your soaking beans might help reduce the oligosaccharide content and there are no negative side effects associated with doing so, so it could be worth trying.

Which beans cause the least gas? ›

If one bean bothers you, try a different one to see if it causes less gas. Lentils, split peas and black-eyed peas, for example, are lower in gas-producing carbohydrates than other pulses. Chickpeas and navy beans are on the high end. Chew thoroughly.

Can I add baking soda to beans while cooking? ›

Your Beans Will Cook Faster

Well, creating an alkaline (or basic) environment by adding a small pinch of baking soda to your cooking water can actually help your beans cook faster.

Will soaking beans reduce gas? ›

While soaking shortens the unattended cooking time of beans somewhat, the time saved is marginal and there are no other labor-saving benefits. Finally, soaking does absolutely nothing to reduce the gas-producing properties of beans.

How do you take the gas out of beans without soaking them? ›

How to Eat Beans without Gas - 60-Second Solutions - YouTube

How much baking soda does it take to soften beans? ›

Baking Soda Can Tenderize

If you're using hard water or beans damaged by age or storage, add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per pound of dried beans to the soaking water. If you empty the soaking water and use fresh water to cook the beans, replace the baking soda.

What is the easiest bean to digest? ›

How to do it right: Start with lentils and mung beans, which are known as the most digestible beans. And definitely avoid the red kidney bean.

What beans give you the most gas? ›

According to several articles, soybeans are the fartiest and also contain the highest percentage of sugars. Navy beans and pinto beans are the next top offenders. And other worthy contestants include black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and chickpeas.

Do all beans cause gas? ›

Beans and legumes

Beans are also rich in fiber, and a high intake of fiber can increase gassiness. However, not all legumes increase flatulence equally. A 2011 study found that people who ate baked beans and pinto beans were more likely to notice increased gassiness than people who ate black-eyed peas.

How do you take the gas out of beans without soaking them? ›

My trick for removing gas from beans is none other than baking soda. It works perfectly and you won't taste it in your beans. It gets rinsed and removed from the beans prior to cooking them, and it works!

What beans are the least gassy? ›

Among beans, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that black beans, navy beans, kidney beans and pinto beans are more likely to give you gas. Black-eyed beans on the other hand, are among the least gassy beans, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Does vinegar make beans less gassy? ›

"Gas production is normal, albeit for some people, uncomfortable." Bottom line: Adding baking soda or vinegar to your soaking beans might help reduce the oligosaccharide content and there are no negative side effects associated with doing so, so it could be worth trying.

Does soaking dry beans reduce gas? ›

While soaking shortens the unattended cooking time of beans somewhat, the time saved is marginal and there are no other labor-saving benefits. Finally, soaking does absolutely nothing to reduce the gas-producing properties of beans.

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