Beans, beans, the musical fruit

Whatever you want to call them, Beans, Legumes or Pulses are nutritional superstars.

  • They are a rich source of folic acid
  • They have low glycemic index / glycemic load ratings
  • They are loaded with dietary fibre
  • They are a good vegetarian source of iron
  • Their Lysine content allows vegetarians to prepare meals with all of the essential amino acids
  • They are an effective tool against insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • The insoluble high fibre content make them a recognized tool against cancers of the digestive tract.
  • Their soluble fibre has also be recognized for it’s ability to lower LDL cholesterol.
  • They promote a feeling of fullness. This may lead to a reduction in calories and weight loss.

But they’re not perfect…

  • They give you GAS

Beans, as well as such gassy goods as cabbage, soybeans, peas and onions, are naturally sweetened with a family of sugars called oligosaccharides.

These sugars are big, clumsy molecules — too big to slip into your body through the lining of the small intestine.Normally enzymes in the small intestine would rush in and snap these molecules apart like Legos.

But due to a gross oversight, an anti-oligosaccharide enzyme is not standard equipment in a human being.So these complex sugars pass unmolested through the small intestine and enter the large intestine still bearing valuable nutrients.

Unabashed at digging into leftovers, the less reputable bacteria among the 200 strains in your large-intestine start to chow down. Their population grows as they divide into new generations to take advantage of the bounty.

And as they gulp in the big sugars, they let out gas.In essence, your gut accumulates millions of wee bacterial farts.

Nice.

beano1But there is hope out there for those of you who want to reap the benefit of beans without turning yourselves into big, swollen bags of smelly gas.

That help comes in the form of the bean digesting enzyme – alpha-galactosidase.

Otherwise known as…Beano.

Sprinkle a few drops of enzyme on your beans and enjoy.

The enzyme will snap apart those big sugars into handy little sugars, like sucrose, glucose and fructose, your body can use.

The bacteria in your large intestine will go hungry, and your gas will be a thing of the past.

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Beans & the Culinary Arts

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Beans have been a staple in the cooking of cultures all around the world.

Today, a quick search on Amazon turned up 8,816 different books just waiting to show you how to cook with beans.

I would like to recommend some of these to you, but that is a little outside of my area of expertise.

So, I will leave it up to the pros.

In tomorrow’s post, The Healthy Irishman will be serving us a helping of his:

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lentil-loafLentil Loaf with Spicy Citrus Squash

This is a great recipe to try out on those family members who aren’t very “pro-bean”.

Personally, I am going to try out this recipe over the weekend.

And if my other experiments with Gavan’s recipes are indication, I am fast becoming a cook that doesn’t suck.

Another ringing endorsement!

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If you want further nutritional info on beans, go here.

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6 comments

  1. Nice. I love beans and my wife complains that I eat them too often (she said something about the smell…not sure though). My mom is from Guatemala and we had beans all the time growing up.

  2. Great post, my friends and I are bean fanatics, we can’t get enough of them. Beano sounds like an interesting product. I find giving beans a good soak overnight and cooking them with a piece of the seaweed Kombu also helps with the gas factor.

  3. “And as they gulp in the big sugars, they let out gas.In essence, your gut accumulates millions of wee bacterial farts. ”

    Just like yeast!
    I’m bakin bread in my butt!

    I’ve only given Beano a half-assed try. It’s hard to remember to take it before you eat.

    It’s also pricey.

  4. Beans are fantastic nutritionally and I have found that you can build up a tolerance over time. Start with a small serving every once in a while, then you can increase the serving size and frequency.

    High-end beans are a little easier on the digestive system too. I really can’t say enough good things about Rancho Gordo.

  5. Hi Doug,
    When you first start eating beans gas may be a problem because your digestion is not used to them. I encourage you to start with the smaller beans like aduki, navy beans, lentils and small portions (like the guy above mentioned). Eating them in soups helps, and the key is to chew each bite 50 times. Sound daunting, OK, start with 15 times and work your way to 25. If you do the 50 times, I guarentee that your problem will soon get better. As your digestion improves, so will the “gas” problem. A postage stamp size piece of kombu seaweed cooked in with the beans helps (you still have to chew!). Bean there, done that! 🙂 This is the link to my bean recipes on my blog: http://www.becomingwhole.typepad.com/my_weblog/recipes_beans/

    Gotta go my bean, rice and veggie dinner is ready!

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