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Your gas-free guide to eating beans

Beans are good for you… but they come with a notoriously gassy reputation. Here’s how to enjoy the benefits, without the side effects.

One small thing: Soaking dry beans in water overnight will rid them of some of the substances (including carbs and sugars) that your body struggles to break down, thereby helping eliminate the gassy side effects.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit! The more you eat, the more you … You know how the song goes. That’s the problem with beans, isn’t it? They’re the musical fruit, and despite their wide range of health benefits, you’re wary of eating too much for obvious reasons.

Why beans are good for you

Rush University Medical Center, based in the US, included beans in its MIND Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) Diet, which focuses on 10 food groups that support brain health. The remaining nine are green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, wholegrains, seafood, poultry, olive oil and wine. Other studies have found that an extra serving of beans can lower your risk of heart attack. (See? They really are good for you.)

Why beans give you gas

The truth is, passing gas is your body’s natural way of getting rid of the excess air that gets trapped in your gut. The foods that cause that to happen tend to be the ones that are hard to break down, or that contain substances that produce gas during digestion, or that cause you to swallow air while you’re eating.

Beans, in particular, contain high amounts of a sugar called raffinose, which the body battles to break down. They’re also rich in fibre, which in high doses can cause flatulence.

But beans aren’t the only culprits. Others include legumes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies, wheat, wholegrains, onions, garlic and beer. After a hearty meal including any of these, you might find yourself with some gassy discomfort. Fatty foods also make your body work extra hard to digest them, which can also cause gas to get trapped in your system.

How to prevent flatulence

The good news is there are a few small, easy things that you can do to enjoy the benefits of beans (and other gassy foods) without having to worry about the side effects.

Ease into it. Eating small portions (slowly add beans to your diet) will help your body’s gut bacteria get used to digesting them.

Another trick is to soak dry beans in water overnight. Dry beans are more affordable than canned beans, and if you soak, rinse and drain them, you’ll rid them of some of the substances (including carbs and sugars) that your body struggles to break down.

Most of all, stay physically active – if you exercise regularly, you’ll help the gas move through your body more quickly, which can reduce bloating and flatulence.

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