The World's Healthiest Foods

Intestinal gas and how to increase the digestibility of beans

Legumes, like garbanzo beans, cause intestinal gas because humans cannot digest the oligosaccharides (sugars) found in beans. These sugars are consumed by bacteria in the large intestine, which form gas. The gas-forming compounds can be reduced by draining off the water used to soak the dried beans and replacing it with fresh water before cooking. For canned garbanzo beans, drain off the liquid in the can and rinse with fresh water before using.

There is anecdotal evidence that cooking beans with kombu (a type of sea vegetable) and plenty of spices can improve the digestibility of beans. Adding kombu to your beans will also increase their nutritional value by adding trace minerals to your dish. Cumin, fennel and ginger are among the spices that are especially effective in preventing the formation of gas, but any of your favorite aromatic spices will help by inhibiting bacteria and stimulating digestion.