A Bean Intervention: 5 Tips to Enjoying Beans Without Gas

March 2, 2011

spicy chickpea salad

For all of you bean lovers out there, who have suffered way too long, this post is for you...

Beans are one of the most nutritious and satisfying foods - rich in complex carbohydrates, low-fat protein, minerals, calcium, fiber, and loaded with antioxidants. They also have great flavor and texture.  To top it off, they rarely go bad since they are dried. Unfortunately, eating beans can also lead to gas and bloating. If you want to get the nutritional benefits of beans, without blowing up, here are some helpful tips...

Beans To Buy: Some beans are easier to digest than others. Try and stay away from canned beans because the sugars and preservatives can disrupt your digestive system and cause gas. If you do buy canned ones, make sure to rinse and drain them well.  Purchase fresh, dried beans from a store where there is a quick turn-over, such as these dried chickpeas from the bulk aisle at Whole Foods pictured below. Also, choose smaller sized beans - since they tend to be less gassy-  such as small lima beans over large lima beans, and navy beans over kidney beans. Store them in  a cool, dry place, like your pantry.

dried chickpeas

Prep, Wash and Soak: Sort through your dried beans and discard any cracked ones. Place in a bowl or pot and cover with cold water by at least 2 to 3 inches. Swirl the water and beans around with your fingers. Gently pour off most of the water and any floating matter into the sink . Repeat until the water is clear. On the last rinse, pour the remaining water and beans through a mesh strainer. Then, you want to soak your beans. For the cold-soak method, wash and cover beans with water 3 to 4 inches over the beans. Let the beans sit overnight for 6 to 8 hours. Discard soaking water. For the hot-soak method, place the beans in a pot and cover with water 3 to 4 inches over the beans. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let the beans soak in the hot water for two hours. Discard soaking water. Tip: If you are pressed for time, just buy beans that don't need to soak, such as lentils and split peas.


Get Cooking: You can boil, pressure cook, bake your beans in liquid, even sprout them! If you are boiling your beans, it's 1 cup dry beans to 3 to 4 cups water. The beans should remain under water during cooking. Cooking time, of course, depends on the bean. For chickpeas, you want to bring to a boil and simmer them for about 1 hour. Pour beans through a colander to drain or remove from cooking liquid with a slotted spoon. Pressure cooking reduces cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes, but note that black beans, lentils and split peas should not be pressure cooked since their skins can get stuck in the valve. The best beans to pressure cook are soy beans and chickpeas. Finally, you can try the sprouting method, which is supposedly one of the best ways to minimize beans' negative effects.

Eat Your Beans with Grains: When eaten with grains, they make a complete protein, so try pairing your beans with quinoa, bulgar, or some brown rice. Check out this tasty recipe for spicy chickpea salad with Basmati rice.

Note: If none of the above tips help you, I recommend trying some beano or seeing your doctor!



Janice Harper's picture

Thanks for the tips -- I often skip the soaking part in my rush to get the beans cooking, and this post is a reminder of one of the reasons it's best to soak them.

I don't know if it's an old wive's tale or has merit, but I've heard that cooking beans with savory reduces gas. Also, beans are often cooked with onions and garlic, which are themselves quite "gassy," so reducing or eliminating those ingredients will also help.

Michelle's picture

To reduce gas add a pinch of baking soda when soaking, or if using the quick method by boiling. When preparing to cook, drain water and rinse to remove any extra sodium.

Elyse's picture

Thanks for the tips - I'm definitely going to try the baking soda with soaking and experiment with savory next time around!

Spicy Chickpea Salad with Basmati Rice's picture

[...] Beans are one of the most nutritious and satisfying foods – rich in complex carbohydrates, low-fat protein, minerals, calcium, fiber, and loaded with antioxidants. This dish features my favorite bean- the chickpea- in a tasty, quick, and easy salad with sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, lemon juice and lots of flavorful Indian spices. Serve over some nutty Basmati white rice and enjoy! Note: For tips on how to minimize beans’ negative effects, check out my latest post on Foodista “A Bean Intervention: 5 Tips to Enjoying Beans Without Gas.” [...]

Connie's picture

Sorry if this is a silly question but when using the overnight soak do you put the beans in the refrigerator or leave them at room temperature?

Chris's picture

Adding some fresh epazote will also lessen the amount of gas you have, as well as aid in digestion.

Dan's picture

How bad are edamame for gas?

Elyse Prince's picture

Not at all! You can soak them at room temperature or in the fridge. I think they taste better at room temp!

Elyse Prince's picture

Depends on the person, but they can be pretty bad, because they are essentially immature soybeans, and younger beans cause more gas than older ones. Also, it's the way we consume them here (1) often served with sea salt at sushi restaurants which can cause bloating (2) and typically served in a big bowl. Recommendation: enjoy without sea salt and fewer at a time.

Connie's picture

Thanks, Elyse! I've never seen it specified and this was the one thing holding me back from using dry beans instead of canned!