The Real Reason Beans Give You Gas

Beans are healthy and nutritious, but they also bring the troubling side effect of gas to the table. If you're like most people, you've likely been embarrassed by a little bit of ill-timed flatulence at least once or twice. But what is it about beans that causes them to give us gas?

One reason that beans cause flatulence is because they contain soluble fiber. When this kind of fiber reaches the intestines, it ferments, which is what causes bloating and gas (via Healthline). In addition to fiber, beans contain a type of carbohydrate called raffinose, which is difficult for the digestive tract to break down. For this reason, it ferments in the intestines much like fiber does. This process leads to the production of several kinds of gases including methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.

Not all beans are created equal, however. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, black, kidney, pinto, and navy beans are the worst offenders when it comes to gas. On the flip side, studies have shown black-eyed peas to cause the least amount of flatulence (via Cleveland Clinic).

How to reduce gas when eating beans

You shouldn't have to avoid beans because of gas. After all, beans are quite nutritious and their gas-inducing fiber is good for you! The good news is, there are ways to help eliminate flatulence.

One approach that seems to decrease the amount of gas beans produce is to soak them overnight, or at least for 12 hours before cooking. While not backed by much science, adding herbs such as peppermint, garlic, fennel seeds, onion, and ginger might make them easier to digest. Additionally, cooking beans with kombu seaweed may reduce the gas factor in beans. Simply remove the seaweed after cooking (via Cleveland Clinic).

Keep in mind that if beans and other fiber-rich foods are a regular part of your diet, your body should adapt, resulting in less gas overall. If you do decide to add more fibrous foods to your diet, do so slowly, as adding too much too fast can cause bloating in addition to gas. Drinking plenty of water when eating foods that contain fiber can also help cut down on flatulence (via Healthline).