Beans are an excellent way to add high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. They are high in iron, B vitamins and fiber, and quite versatile.
Some folks have difficulty digesting beans. They may develop gas, bloating, or even experience irritability or unclear thinking. Most often these issues arise when the beans have not been stored and prepared properly.
Dry beans stay fresh longer when kept in a cool, dark place (rather than on the countertop). It’s important to avoid using beans that are more than a year old, as their nutrient content and digestibility tend to be much lower. Old beans won’t soften, even with thorough cooking. Dried beans purchased in the bulk section are a budget-friendly addition to your shopping cart and weekly menu plans.
Additional suggestions to ensure your beans are cooked properly include:
Use a pressure cooker. This also cuts down on cooking time.
Chew beans thoroughly and know that even small amounts have high nutritional and healing value.
Soak and sprout beans for several days before you cook them, changing the water twice daily, until a small tail forms on the beans.
Experiment with your ability to digest beans. Smaller beans like adzuki, lentils, mung beans and peas digest most easily. Pinto, kidney, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, lima and black beans are harder to digest. Soybeans and black soybeans are the most difficult beans to digest.
Legumes digest best when consumed with green or non-starchy vegetables and seaweeds.
Season beans with unrefined sea salt, miso or tamari near the end of cooking. If salt is added at the beginning, the beans won’t cook completely and they’ll dry out. Salt is a digestive aid when used correctly.
Adding fennel or cumin near the end of cooking helps prevent gas.
Adding kombu or kelp seaweed to the beans helps improve flavor and digestion, adds minerals and nutrients, and speeds up the cooking process.
Pour a little apple cider, brown rice or white wine vinegar into the water during the last stage of cooking. This softens the beans and breaks down protein chains and indigestible compounds.