Sunday, 12 April 2009

“Bean, Bean, the Musical Fruit”

Beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Many edible beans, including broad beans and soybeans, contain oligosaccharides (particularly Raffinose and Stachyose), a type of sugar molecule. An anti-oligosaccharide enzyme is necessary to properly digest these sugar molecules.

As a normal human digestive tract does not contain any anti-oligosaccharide enzymes, consumed oligosaccharides are typically digested by bacteria in the large intestine. This digestion process produces flatulence-causing gases as a byproduct.

This aspect of bean digestion is the basis for the children's rhyme “Bean, Bean, the Musical Fruit”.

Don’t allow fear of gas to keep from enjoying bean’s versitality and nutritional advantages. Try these:

Gradually increase the amount of beans you eat over several weeks, experience shows that the body gradually adapts to increased bean consumption, and you can overcome the problem of intestinal gas or bloating caused due to beans.
  • Beans can be soaked in water for several hours (8-12 hours), replacing the water every few hours, to remove the offending sugars.
  • Slow cook them to help reduce the gas-forming compounds.
  • Adding a little baking soda will also help, or you can buy enzyme products at the drug store that break down the gas-forming parts of the bean.
  • In many cuisines beans are cooked along with natural carminative (anti flatulence) such as anise seeds, coriander seeds and cumin.
  • Vinegar can also be added, but only after the beans are cooked as vinegar interferes with the beans' softening.
  • Fermented beans ( L casei bacteria) produce less intestinal problems then unfermented beans, since bacteria can consume the offending sugars. Fermentation helps to increase nutritional quality also.
  • To reduce flatulence cook with herbs and spices such as fennel, anise, turmeric, lemongrass, dill, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, bay leaf, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin.

Different types of bean really blend well with certain seasonings.

  • Red or Kidney beans: cayenne, chili pepper, green chilies and chili sauce.
  • Black-Eyed Peas or Pintos: Coriander
  • White Beans or Lentils: bay leaves.
  • Any type of bean: garlic and onions.

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