Beans are a beloved staple in so many cuisines for great reason. They’re affordable, versatile, and nourishing. But unfortunately—as hot girls with stomach issues know—the more you eat, the more you toot. It all comes down to some fundamental gut science. And luckily, there are time-tested techniques that may make beans easier on your stomach.
Why do beans make me fart?
The main culprit: Beans contain sugars called raffinose, which is what contributes to the discomfort. Because the human digestive tract can lack an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase to break down raffinose, it travels undigested to the large intestine. That’s where bacteria feed on the sugars fermented in the gut, which can produce gas. To put it simply, fermentation equals farting. Raffinose is also common in other delicious foods like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts, yet beans are arguably the most notorious when it comes to digestive disruption.
How can I make beans easier to digest?
While it’s impossible to avoid gas altogether, some traditional, tasty additions to beans may soothe digestion.
Kombu is a type of kelp used extensively in Japanese cooking. It’s commonly infused into umami-laden stocks like dashi (which you can simmer swiftly or steep overnight). Aside from its robust flavor, the addition of kombu can improve the texture of beans so that they have softer skins with smoother centers. And, when cooked with beans, this ingredient may aid in digestion. Kombu contains enzymes (glutamic acid) that break down the gas culprit—raffinose sugars—in beans. This process allows the nutrients to be better absorbed and makes the food easier for you to digest. Just add a piece of kombu to gently simmering beans, then remove once they’re cooked through.
Cumin and beans are a common, much-loved combo in countless dishes, from Crispy Black Bean Tacos to White Bean and Chorizo Chili. Besides its earthy, peppery flavor, the spice may even help with digestive issues. In one study, patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were administered 20 drops of cumin essential oil every day. At the four-week mark, participants reported a significant decrease in symptoms of bloating. While it’s not quite the same as using cumin essential oil, next time you make a pot of beans, try adding a spoonful of ground cumin to the broth.
Epazote is an aromatic herb traditionally used in Latin American cuisines with citrusy, licorice notes. The fragrant herb can be used both fresh and dried in cooking, and is typically added to a pot of beans with stomach-soothing in mind. The late cookbook author, Diana Kennedy added epazote to her beans as a “remedy for internal troubles”. And The Mexican Home Kitchen author, Mely Martinez, shares on her blog Mexico in My Kitchen that the herb is believed to regulate digestion and relieve bloating, cramping, and gas. Use epazote by adding it to your pot of beans before bringing it to a boil.
Asafetida, also known as hing, is widely used in South Asian cooking, often as a deeply savory stand-in for onions and garlic. It’s a resin derived from the roots of ferula, an herb in the parsley family. Commonly sold as a coarse powder, asafetida has a pungent odor that, when cooked, mellows out to an allium flavor—cook it thoroughly with your beans to avoid bitterness. You should only use a small amount to reap its benefits. As New York Times food reporter Priya Krishna wrote, “I don’t know how else to put it except to say that to me, it makes Indian food taste more Indian.” The spice is used to help with digestion in Ayurvedic medicine. Food writer Monica Bhide discusses how the spice is used to help combat flatulence caused by beans, writing, “A small pinch of asafetida, fried in a teaspoon of oil, can be added to any kind of cooked legumes. No more need for Beano.”
So all hot girls with stomach issues join hands, and start cooking.
Bean there, done that
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