Helping Beans Run Out of Gas

Ferment them first to avert flatulence, experts say

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WEDNESDAY, April 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Beans don't have to be a musical food.

Fermenting beans before cooking them reduces most of their flatulence-inducing soluble fiber, Venezuelan researchers report. It also enhances their nutritional quality, they add.

Flatulence is caused when bacteria that live in the large intestine break down food compounds that haven't been digested higher in the gut, causing the release of gas. Fermenting beans can eliminate most of these gas-producing compounds, the researchers reported Tuesday in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

The key bacteria in the fermentation are Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, both of which can be added directly to a batch of beans. Once the fermented beans are cooked, the amount of nutrients in the beans that can be digested and absorbed increases significantly, say researchers at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas.

Beans are an important source of nutrition and more people would likely eat them if it weren't for their gassy aftermath. And while treating a food to solve a problem often reduces its nutritional value, that's not the case with fermenting beans, the researchers said.

More information

The American College of Gastroenterology has more about belching, bloating and flatulence.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., news release, April 25, 2006

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