Reduces phytic acids and improves the absorption of important nutrients and minerals, such as protein, iron, zinc and calcium.Processes that remove or degrade phytic acid have been shown to improve the absorption of proteins and some minerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).Polyphenols are micronutrients found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and some beverages.However, they also bind to positively charged minerals (such as iron) and proteins, making them unavailable for absorption in our bodies.Reducing levels of tannins and polyphenols through soaking helps increase our body's ability to absorb minerals including iron, zinc, and calcium, as well as proteins found in foods such as chickpeas, mung beans, lentils, and peas.Significant reductions in the levels of polyphenols and tannins are observed during the first 2 – 4 hours of soaking in water.Eating large quantities of beans is known to cause flatulence, or gas, bloating, and farting in humans.As humans, we can't break down oligosaccharides because we don't have the protein needed to digest them in our small intestine.Soaking beans before cooking them has long been shown to reduce the degree of flatulence experienced.Soaking for several hours increases the water in the seeds which speeds up chemical reactions, such as starch gelatinization, during cooking. .

Nutritional Benefit of Soaking Beans Prior to Cooking

Dried beans are a versatile, affordable source of protein, fiber, starches, iron, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and other essential nutrients.When beans aren't soaked, these sugars can bypass your stomach and small intestine without being fully digested.Soaking beans in water removes tiny particles of dirt, gravel and other debris.Phytic acid, a compound in many legumes and grains, may reduce the bioavailability of zinc and other minerals, making it more difficult for your body to utilize these nutrients.Zinc is an essential element that supports cellular metabolism and promotes healthy neurological function, growth, immunity and wound healing.In an article published in the Sept. 2000 issue of the "Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry," Gloria Urbano from the University of Granada and co-authors reported that soaking legumes may reduce the effects of phytic acid on mineral absorption.For every pound of dried beans, use 10 cups of water for soaking, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.


Why Soaking Beans Might Be Healthier

They are high in fiber, high-quality protein, and beneficial low glycemic carbohydrates that can help with cardiovascular health (by lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol), weight management, and blood glucose control.Furthermore, beans are an essential part of a healthy vegan and vegetarian diet because of their micronutrients, such as B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, and zinc.But what are the best ways to purchase them, prepare them and store them to get the most flavor, nutritional value and minimize unwanted GI side effects such as gas and bloating?The foremost and most significant con to canned beans is that they cost considerably more per pound than dried (roughly three times as much).Beans, whether purchased canned or dried, are an important food group to include as part of a balanced diet.Add kombu seaweed for natural salinity, or you can even cook beans in unsalted vegetable stock.If using beans in a salad, cooking properly from dried can yield a firmer, less mushy texture, so it may be preferred if planned in advance.If purchasing canned beans, give them an additional rinse (even if they are no-salt-added) to remove any lingering raffinose sugars — which is what makes them hard to digest — that may have leached out in the liquid during storage.Whether consuming dried or canned beans, including enough water in your diet is essential to helping your GI system handle the extra fiber.A general rule of thumb is to add one 3 by 5-inch strip of Kombu to 1 pound of dried beans and 4 quarts of water during cooking.Another nutritional consideration when including beans in your diet is to reduce their phytate content (AKA phytic acid), achieved by both soaking and purchasing canned varieties.That being said, if one consistently consumes foods high in phytates throughout the day and daily, there is a potential for impaired absorption and deficiencies over time.In an article published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, soaking legumes is a crucial method to significantly reduce the adverse effects of phytates on mineral absorption.In fact, studies indicate that soaking beans for 12 hours in plain water at room temperature can reduce phytate content by up to 66%.Phytate content in canned beans is even lower due to their processing techniques and extended storage in liquid.Buying beans in the bulk section of the supermarket is usually a good choice because they have a higher turnover and will be fresher when purchased.Once home, transfer out of the bag to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight such as a pantry.This is because baking soda creates a more alkaline/basic environment and makes the beans soften faster, speeding up the cooking process.Keep beans at a gentle simmer while cooking, not a rolling boiling, to keep skins intact and result in a tender, creamy consistency on the inside. .

Don't soak your dried beans! Now even the cool kids agree

Letting dried beans sit overnight in a bowl of cold water does nothing to improve their flavor or their texture.No less an authority than noted Mexican cookbook writer Diana Kennedy has advocated it for years.“If you want the best-flavored beans, don’t soak them overnight, but start cooking in hot water,” she says in “The Cuisines of Mexico” (Harper & Row: 1972).The heat and pressure of the canning process (called the retort) is enough to cook -- perhaps even overcook -- the beans right in the can.To each pot I added a hunk of salt pork, some sliced onion and a bit of garlic.The unsoaked beans had a noticeably deeper flavor; they were firmer to the bite, and they did not break up as much in cooking.I sat down with a big bowl of the cooked unsoaked beans (after a little refrying with bacon and a handful of grated Monterey Jack cheese) and ate lunch.I waited, half expecting to blow up like a balloon (as a precaution, I did this test at home, alone).That experiment was far from scientific, but after talking to a couple of researchers who confirmed my results, I moved on to more phone calls and other tests.Interestingly, though, to get the same level of saltiness in the unsalted batch of beans, I had to add more than twice as much salt.--Other people said that the type of pot in which beans are cooked is the most important thing -- only earthenware will do.With constant attention and a ready flame-tamer, I could manipulate the temperature well enough to keep the beans at a sufficiently slow simmer.All of these tests were done with commonly available varieties -- pinto and white northern -- that had been purchased from stores that seem to sell a lot of beans.(Actually they are quite good even raw when doused with a little olive oil, mint or basil and salt).In fact, with these beans, soaking may be necessary to bring the cooking time down to a matter of hours, rather than days.“Whether to soak beans prior to cooking or not is simply a culinary question,” says Gregory Gray, who has been studying beans for 10 years at the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Regional Research lab in Albany, Calif. “It may shorten the cooking time, but other than that, there’s no effect [on flatulence].”.“There are lots of old wives’ tales [about reducing flatulence] -- people use bicarbonate of soda, ginger, sulfur, castor oil -- a whole series of them.First, beans are high in fiber, which most Americans don’t eat much of and which can cause flatulence.Mainly raffinose and stachyose, they pass through the stomach undigested until they reach the large intestine.There they ferment, producing gases -- hydrogen, carbon dioxide and -- in some people -- methane.This method succeeded in ridding the beans of 90% of the troublesome sugars, but as you might expect, there was a side effect.What’s more -- without going into details of what they measured and how -- suffice it to say that even with almost all of the alpha-galactosides gone, there wasn’t a consistent marked decrease in human flatulence.This casts doubt not only on this particular pre-soaking method but also on the effectiveness of enzyme additions, such as Beano, which supposedly supply the chemicals necessary to break down the problem sugars.“Apparently, if you eat beans regularly, the microflora [which ferment the sugars causing gas] adjust somewhat,” says Gray.In cultures that routinely eat beans, you don’t hear a lot of complaining about flatulence.”.


Is Soaking Dried Beans Overnight Really Necessary?

If you’ve been reading Basically for a minute, you’ll know we’re big fans of cooking with dried beans.The flavor and texture that properly cooked dried beans bring to the table make the canned stuff feel like child's play.If you start by building flavor in the bottom of a large stock pot by sweating aromatics and chopped vegetables, you can add spices, water, and finally beans to build a satisfying broth over time. .

How to Cook Beans (and All the Myths You Should Ignore

Some people will tell you dried beans take 90 minutes; others will tell you to start a day ahead.And don't even get these people started on adding salt to the simmering pot—it's either completely disastrous or utterly necessary, depending on who you talk to.When these debates started happening within our own ranks awhile back, we took the conversation where it belongs: to the kitchen.Grabbing a dozen bags of pinto beans (Goya, if you must know), we started cooking, covering a half-pound of dried beans in 8 cups of water, bringing them to a boil, then reducing to a simmer until tender.(It's also thought that soaking beans breaks down some of the complex sugars that make them hard for some people to digest.Testing this theory was simple: we covered one batch of beans in water and left it out on the counter to soak overnight.After our first test, this myth became a moot point—if you don't soak your beans, you're always going to cook in fresh water.When we tested this, the beans cooked in the soaking liquid were much more flavorful, had a prettier, darker color, and retained their texture better.We tried this method, and although the cooking time didn't vary much (the quick-soaked beans cooked just 5 minutes faster than the overnight soaked ones and 15 minutes faster than the no-soak beans), the flavor was our favorite of the bunch.Cooking dried beans is simple, but we heard that the process could be simplified even more by placing the pot in the oven.One of the most persistent myths about how to cook dried beans involves salt.Other recipes say to add it in the beginning, because, well, salt is flavor, and we're going to eat these beans, aren't we?Hummus Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine salt (and flavorings if you'd like, see below) and bring to a boil over medium heat.To turn out really flavorful beans, you may want to add a halved onion or tomato, or a few garlic cloves to the pot, along with the salt. .

Why You Should Soak Beans in a Salt and Baking Soda Brine

The firmness that characterizes vegetables like potatoes and African yams is directly related to the presence of large quantities of pectin.Once water is able to penetrate the seed coat and heat is applied, the pectin that sits inside begins to transform.As the pectin heats up it transforms from a hard, insoluble substance that holds the cells together into a soft, water-soluble material.beans don't soften even after cooking because their pectin remains insoluble (although their starches also fail to gelatinize properly).Since calcium and magnesium are partially responsible for hardening the pectin in beans, I reasoned that if there was a way to pop them out, I could destabilize the pectin and thereby the integrity of the bean, making it softer and fully tender with a shorter cooking time.And, of course, the reason why I focused on this element of bean hardness is that there's a simple way to remove those ions from the pectin.If you’ve cleaned tarnished silver or copper utensils, you know that you can make them shiny all over again simply by dropping them into a pot of water mixed with salt and baking soda.The way this works is that, over time, silver and copper utensils become oxidized and develop a patina as the metal reacts with chemicals present in the air.When the tarnished utensils are treated with salt and baking soda, the sodium ions present in the solution displaces the silver in the tarnish and restores the metal back to its original state, and the utensil becomes shiny again.Therefore, prior to cooking, beans can be soaked in brine made of either salt or baking soda.The soaked beans were rinsed to remove any traces of the salts and then cooked in plain filtered water until tender.I relied instead on my judgment to determine when the beans were tender enough to be easily split by a knife without applying excess pressure.Of course, since these are subjective measurements and were based on my opinion of what I think is the right cooked texture for beans, take these findings with a grain of salt (no pun intended). .

How to Cook Beans

Adzuki: These small, scarlet beans cook quickly, with a sweet flavor.Cannellini: These mild, starchy white beans are often used in soups and stews, particularly in Italian cooking.Chickpeas: These nutty-tasting legumes, also known as garbanzo beans, are used all the globe in many guises: soups, stews, dips and even fried or roasted as a snack.Some people find them particularly hard to digest, but soaking and rinsing before cooking can help, as does using a pressure cooker.Like red kidney beans, they can be easier to digest if you soak and rinse before cooking. .

How to Prepare Dried Beans to Avoid Anti-Nutrients

Today, I’m answering your top nutrition questions on how you can prepare dried beans to avoid anti-nutrients.Some websites and fad diets even list these plant foods as “toxic”, suggesting that you avoid all legumes (beans, lentils, peas).Dried beans and peas contain anti-nutrients, which are naturally-occurring plant compounds (i.e., phytates) that can limit the body’s absorption of nutrients from these foods.As an added benefit, it can reduce the complex sugars in beans that are linked with gas and bloating.A review of 33 studies that tested the effect of soaking beans or chickpeas found the greatest and most consistent decreases in phytate levels occurred when the beans or chickpeas were soaked for 12 hours in distilled water at room temperature, but studies that used tap water showed similar results.One study shows that canned beans have lower phytate levels than dried, un-soaked beans, indicating that the canning process (which may include soaking, or blanching or pressure cooking at high heat for a short period of time, depending on which process is used) is also effective in reducing anti-nutrients.Don’t forget to submit your burning nutrition question this month via my blog, or other social media.Image: Heirloom Bean Cassoulet with Root Vegetables, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN. .


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