There are 1,000 varieties which include beans, peas, lentils, garbanzo bean/chickpeas and peanuts. Yes, peanuts are a bean.
The magical fruit,
The more you eat,
The more you toot!
The more you toot,
the better you feel
So let’s eat beans
With every meal.”
Why to eat Beans, Peas, Lentils and Peanuts:
High in protein – 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of cooked beans is equivalent to eating two ounces of lean protein. The guidelines recommend that most adults eat about 5 1/2 ounces of lean meat a day.
Lots of fibre – ½ cup serving of cooked dry beans has 4 to 10 grams of fibre.
Rich in complex carbohydrates.
Contain iron, zinc, calcium, selenium and folate.
Rich in antioxidants.
Low in fat.
Provide a low glycemic index.
Research has shown that the legume family may help to reduce chronic diseases, such as, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory diseases, osteoporosis, depression, obesity, cancer and stroke.
In some Eastern cultures, legumes are and were a basic dietary staple that can be traced back more than 20,000 years
So why don’t we eat lots of beans? GAS is the short answer!
The truth is beans do cause many people to have GAS in the intestines for a very real reason.
Beans contain triple sugar, stachyose, a quadruple sugar, raffinose, and a five sugar, verbascose that we cannot digest. We are missing an enzyme that is required to break down these sugars down. When the beans get to the colon; the bacteria in the colon begins to ferment these sugars producing gas in the process.
If you gradually increase the amount of beans you eat over several weeks most people will overcome this provided you do a few simple things in terms of how you cook them and what combinations you eat.
The benefit of eating more of these sugars in beans is that it promotes the growth intestinal bacteria and these bacteria create an environment in the colon that lowers the risk for cancer.
7 ways to Decrease Intestinal Gas From Beans
1. Learn How to Cook Beans:see my recipe. It is easy to cook beans but it requires planning ahead of time.
2. Eat lots of vegetables, particularly green ones with your beans (75% of the meal should be vegetables).
3. As Beans are slow to digest: • Eat fruit or sugar foods 2 – 3 hours away from a meal with beans. • Only eat one protein in the same meal, as each protein requires a specific type and strength of digestive juices. • Potatoes conflict with digestion of the beans–so avoid eating them in the same meal. • Eat a whole grain with beans to compliment them.
4. In Japanese and far East Asia they add a piece of seaweed (Kombu or Wakame) after the beans as it makes the beans more digestible, more nutritious and tastes great!
5. Use digestive spices – in India they cook ginger, turmeric and sometimes fennel and asafetida with beans to make them more digestible.
6. Chew and savour your beans! Beans and grains are foods where the digestion starts in the mouth. Savour bean soup in the mouth before swallowing to begin the process of digestion.
7. Start with mung beans, aduki and dhal as they are easy to digest because they are low in the complex sugars that are easily broken down by the human digestive enzymes. Even invalids can digest these ones.
If you’re new to beans, start with a small amount and increase gradually by eating them once a week then twice a week etc. Do keep up eating beans regularly so your digestion learns how to digest them.
Ways to include beans, peas, & lentils to your diet:
Add beans to your favourite vegetable soup or stew.
Add beans to you salads.
Instead of the meat in chili and stews add beans.
Add beans to your favourite rice dishes.
Consider vegetarian days.
Plan meals ahead for a week adding beans to the daily menus.
I am the head chef at Real Food for Life and author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and cooking.