Inspiration from Meghan

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How to Eat More Beans and Fart Less


Written by Sondi Bruner, from her fume-free West Coast kitchen.

As Maeve said ever so eloquently in her recent post about beauty products, when we welcome the goodness of whole foods into our lives, our bodies refuse to tolerate any old crap we continue to put into them.

It's also true that when we rid ourselves of toxins, we can even begin to have reactions to the healthy stuff, too. That's because once the terrain in our bodies is clear, our true food intolerances become illuminated.

Since I cut out all the garbage, I've noticed that beans and legumes often do not agree with me, even though I didn't have a problem consuming them in the past. Which sucks, since I love to eat hummus by the spoonful.

Beans and legumes are nutritional powerhouses. They're stuffed with protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They help you lose the junk in the trunk, lower your cholesterol, balance your blood sugar and keep your poops regular.

Unfortunately, beans and legumes are notoriously difficult to digest, due to their high content of both protein and complex carbohydrates. They contain something called 'oligosaccharides', which are sugars that remain undigested until they get to your colon, where the bacterial feast begins and then presto – you're tooting a musical tune.

The good news is there are ways that you can make beans and legumes far more digestible. I've been using these tricks for the last couple of months and let me tell you, they work. Your tummies, and your friends and loved ones, will thank you.

So let me share with you how you can eat more beans and fart less:

1. Use dried beans. Please don't give me a load of baloney about how dried beans are more difficult to use. Most brands of canned beans are loaded with salt and bisphenol A, which messes with your endocrine system, amongst other things. We don't want that, do we? Not only are dried beans healthier because you can control what you add to them, but they are also way, waaaayy cheaper, even if you buy organic. If it's the prep time that turns you off, get yourself on the list for Meghan's new online classes, which will show you all the tips and tricks that make meal prep a breeze.

2. Soak your beans. Soak your beans for at least eight hours. I like to soak mine overnight, or you could leave them to soak in the morning and cook them when you arrive back home in the evening. Soaking beans and legumes reduces the amount of those pesky oligosaccharides, plus it decreases their phytic acid content. Phytic acid binds to vitamins and minerals, making them less available for us to use. So soak those babies!

3. Drain and rinse your beans. Don't take the beans with their soaking water and simply transfer them into a pot for cooking. Using a large colander or strainer, drain your beans and legumes and rinse them really, really, really well. This makes sure you eliminate any starches or phytates that were released during soaking time.

4. Add kombu during cooking. Seaweeds like kombu or kelp help make beans more digestible, plus they add a little bit of extra vitamins and minerals. You could also add spices that aid digestion like fennel, cumin or ginger.

5. Practise moderation. For the bean newbies, try eating them in small amounts to give your body time to adjust, and then increase your consumption. For some of us, though, beans will always be a tricky beast, but that doesn't mean we need to stop eating them! We can reap the benefits from even a quarter or a third of a cup. So instead of hoovering two heaping bowls of black bean chili, go for a half cup serving – and pack your plate with plenty of veggie goodness, too.

Question of the Day: Do you have any bean-eating tips to share?

Sondi Bruner a holistic nutritionist, food blogger and freelance writer who can’t stop dreaming about what to create in the kitchen.  You can find her blogging here and follow her on Twitter here.

28 Responses to “How to Eat More Beans and Fart Less”

  1. People want to know this! I wrote a very similar post last year and I get many searches for it every day. People want their legumes and cut down on the toots! Spread the word! This is my post:
  2. Jen said… June 6, 2012
    I use a bay leaf or two when I cook my dried beans. It seems to help.
  3. JB said… June 6, 2012
    I always cook 2-3 batches of beans at a time. I store some in the fridge for the week and the rest in ziploc baggies (must lay beans flat). That way, I can reach for a bag from the freezer instead of a can of beans...much cheaper and healthier!
    • Donna said… June 7, 2012
      When you use them from the freezer, do you defrost or just toss them in to the recipe? Does it effect the flavor/mouth feel at all ie, more gritty or mushy? Thanks for the great idea!
      • I freeze extra beans all the time, too. I usually defrost them in the fridge or in the microwave prior to using them. I actually store them with their cooking liquid so they don't dry out. Hope this helps!
  4. haha what a great title!! and a very helpful post! thanks for sharing!
  5. Tara said… June 6, 2012
    You could even take it a step further and sprout them for a day or two first.
    • Meghan Telpner said… June 6, 2012
      I love that I can always count on you to take it the next level! Thanks Tara.
      • Tara said… June 6, 2012
        I usually soak mine like you describe, then keep them in a colander with a towel thrown over it. Twice a day rinse and shake the beans out. After a couple of days they'll start to sprout slightly. Then I rinse and cook. You can't tell they are sprouted at all! At Costco I've even found dried organic already sprouted beans. Nice!
    • Christina in Cleveland said… July 5, 2013
      So I tried soaking dry organic garbanzo beans... first time I tried sprouting them I got nada. Next time ... nada. I keep rinsing and such only to end up with a compost smelling mess. Tell me true, have you had any luck sprouting this little cuties? How about Quinoa?
      • Meghan Telpner said… July 7, 2013
        I have. Are yours organic? If the beans have been irradiated, they won't sprout. Kind of scary.
        • Christina in Cleveladn said… July 7, 2013
          Good question Meghan. I will double check to make sure they are organic. Hmmm... thank you!!
  6. Audrey said… June 6, 2012
    I was told by my naturopath that adding cumin and mugwort helps alot to digest beans. I still didn't try because I'm kinda scared (since beans make me suffer, and not just a bit).
    • Eric said… May 14, 2013
      Since cumin is one of the ingredients in madras curry as is corriander, I always add a tsp. to my beans. My grandmother soaked her beans 24 hrs but I just rinse well let boil 3 minutes turn off heat cover and let them triple in size before cooking. Lotsa people do it this way.
  7. Add kelp (powdered or liquid) to the soaking water and let the beans sprout (I keep a colander in the sink and rinse every time I walk by) a little and then cook them. This exponentially increases their nutritional value and makes them even more digestible! No gas whatsoever!
    • Oh, I also meant to say (trigger happy enter button) that the kelp increases the mineral content and makes the beans less gassy.
  8. This is so weird as i have just been discussing this with my friend and these tips will be great. I read above that once cooked you can freeze them, can i check that is ok? Also once cooked how long will they last in the fridge? I always buy tinned but will give dried beans a go. I have never heard of mugwort and just wondered what it is. Thank you.
    • Yep, you can freeze your beans after you cook them. In the fridge, I'd say they last up to five days.
  9. Annette said… July 9, 2012
    I love using kombu in beans. One thing I usually do (I don't know if it help but seems to) is add some tumeric while my beans are cooking.
  10. I always add a little asafoetida to the cooking water and it really seems to help. I also change the soaking water a few times.
  11. Kamore said… January 19, 2013
    Have tried using two or more sticks of carrots which sort of works for me .but soaking is a must .
  12. percy said… December 11, 2013
    While that stuff helps some, it doesn't help all. To me it's not worth it and I just avoid beans and lactose containing dairy except hard cheeses. I have no problems with things like onions, garlic, cauliflower etc... but beans/milk/ice cream... just not worth it at all b/c of bloating and discomfort, it got worse the older I got and adding gradually more beans (tried that before) just made it that much gradually worse. I eat a pretty heavy asian diet of rice/fish/lean meat/vegetables and it is by far the easiest on my stomach.
  13. […] are one of them! Now, there are a lot of things to keep in mind for people who wish to include more beans in their diet.  First of all, if you do not eat beans a lot, you should ease your way into them.  I say this […]
  14. Joe said… July 8, 2014
    I cook a lot of beans, especially cannellini beans. I always add a couple of bay leaves to the cooking beans which eliminates their gassiness.
  15. Jennifer said… August 28, 2014
    I'm not sure if I can agree with the ppl who say just eating more beans will make you immune to their er, effects. I come from a southwestern Native [Original] American family. We eat ALOT of beans, pop-overs and "chumuth" [tortillas]. It was our main dish as kids and growing up. My mother has always soaked and strained them and has added bayleaf and cumin [not at the same time though] without result (except for deliciousness). Never has there been a relief from the gas using these methods. :( Not saying they are absolutely bunk but they just never worked for any of us who have been eating beans for 30+ years each. I've found that taking a drink (I like to call it a shot) of Apple Cider Vinegar either before or after bean consumption can help wonders! I've come to depend on ACV for gas, bloating and heartburn. Be mindful though, drinking ACV strait out of the bottle can be like taking a shot of gross liquor to the brain [even diluting it helps little] but the instant relief is often worth the momentarily discomfort and you can gargle your mouth out or wash down the rest by chugging water. Not for everyone but something some people can try. Baking soda works a bit too but DO NOT USE BOTH ACV and BAKING SODA! X-( one source for ACV info:
    • sarah hayes said… January 12, 2016
      I am sooo gonna try Apple cider vinegar, I love recipes with chickpeas, and hummus. But whether I soak, use cumin, turmeric, or bay leaves. nothing works and It hurts! Next stop ACV :-)
  16. […] I make my own beans now. They have no salt (unless I add salt), are always fresh, are cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the cans. And, they cause less flatulence! […]
  17. […] Chickpeas are always a popular option, but lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and lima beans are all good options as well. If you or your guests are new to eating beans, start off with a small amount, since beans are quite starchy and can make us toot (for tips on how to make beans more digestible, check out this post). […]

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