The World's Healthiest Foods

The benefits of presoaking beans before cooking

To shorten cooking time of beans and make them easier to digest, they should be presoaked. In terms of enhanced digestion, the presoaking has been found to reduce raffinose- and stachyose-type oligosaccharides, sugars that associated with causing flatulence. Intestinal gas is a challenge for some people when it comes to beans and so this is a great benefit that presoaking offers.

There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans. The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the saucepan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.

There has been some debate in the public press over discarding of the bean soaking water. Some websites and commentators have argued that this soaking water contains too many valuable nutrients to discard.

We believe that a recent study has helped to put this controversy to rest by comparing a wide range of factors involved with the content of the soaking water. Research analysis has shown that in addition to reducing the flatulence-related oligosaccharides, getting rid of the soaking water also means getting rid of some of the phytates and tannins that can lower nutrient availability. Discarding the water will result in an unwanted loss of total phenols, but the extent of that loss will be relatively small (about 15%). While some of the total carbohydrate content in the black beans will be lost along with the discarded soaking water, the amount of digestion-enhancing resistant starch will remain unchanged.