Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit…

 

 I am sure you have heard the little rhyme:

    Beans, beans, the musical fruit

    The more you eat, the more you toot…

    The more you toot, the better you feel…

    So eat your beans at every meal!

    (Author Unknown)

Legumes (beans, peas, and Lentils) are one of the best vegetable sources of iron, protein, and fiber, and are a great food to include if you are desirous of losing weight, lower blood pressure, or reducing your cholesterol level. Many people with diabetes have found legumes help to better control blood sugar levels.

 

If you are not used to eating legumes, the extra high fiber content can cause a bit more gas (flatulence) than you may be used to. This is because the legume skin contains indigestible carbohydrates. This indigestible carbohydrate actually creates natural probiotics and is very beneficial to our gut.

Here are some tips for reducing the gas effects:

Soaking: The most effective way to reduce the gas effect of beans is to pour boiling water over them and let them soak for 8-12 hours, changing the water 1-2 times during the soaking time.
Start slow: Allowing your body to become accustomed to increased indigestible fiber will help reduce the gas. Gradually increase the frequency and amount over 1-3 months.

Beano: Some people has found relieve from excessive gas from pharmaceutical preparations such as Beano. Take at the beginning of a meal with beans. These pharmaceutical preparations contain an enzyme that breaks down the bean skins before they arrive in the large intestine and are metabolized by gas-producing bacteria.(1)
Some legumes are better tolerated than others. Lentils, fresh or frozen peas, fresh or frozen lima, tend to be among those that are less gaseous and also do not need any soaking time. It might be beneficial to begin increasing your legume intake with these.

References:

Pamplona-Roger, G.D., Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Editorial Safeliz, S.L., 2006.

Here is a delicious lima bean recipe to get you started!

 

Stewed Lima Beans

Yields 2 servings

  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lima beans are tender. Sauce should be creamy. Serve!

Variations: substitute fresh onion with 1-2 teaspoons onion powder. Try adding a couple tablespoons pimentos or red pepper for a festive holiday dish!

Quick tip: Lima beans, like any other bean, are a great food to prepare ahead. They can be frozen or canned. All ingredients can be placed in a slower cooker in the morning, on low to medium setting and come home from work and supper is ready!

Serving Suggestion: Serve with whole grain cornbread, greens, and fresh sliced tomatoes.