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Digestion of Beans & Vegetables

My nutritionist recommended I eat a Mediterranean type diet and increase beans and vegetables in my diet. I love to eat beans and vegetables but I have a terrible time digesting them. Is there something I can do to help?

For Vegetables:

Sautéing and lightly steaming problematic veggies should help. The cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and brussel sprouts tend to be the most gas forming. Consuming 1-2 tbsp of cultured vegetables before or during meal time can help increase your digestive forces.  A digestive enzyme specific for vegetable digestion can also be helpful.

For Beans and Legumes:

Proper soaking and cooking of beans will help increase digestibility. Soaking beans and legumes decreases cooking time and helps reduce the indigestible sugars responsible for producing gas.

If using canned beans, purchasing beans preserved with kombu seaweed may be more easily digested.

Smaller beans do not need to be soaked: lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, mung beans, adzuki beans.

Soak Large beans: garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, navy beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, cannellini beans.

  • Slow soak method: In a large bowl, place rinsed beans with twice as much water as beans. (i.e. 1 cup beans with 2 cups water). Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse beans well before cooking.
  • Quick Soak Method: In a stockpot, bring the same proportion of water and beans to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let soak at room temp for 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse the beans well before cooking.

To further reduce “gassiness”:

  • Add 2-inch piece of kombu seaweed to the soaking water and remove after cooking. Kombu is a seaweed that helps break down the indigestible sugars in beans called raffinose and stacchiose that are responsible for producing gas. If using canned beans, some brands, such as Eden Organics, preserve the beans with kombu seaweed.
  • Take a digestive enzyme specific for bean and vegetable digestion. Here at Good Harvest we have the products Bean Assist, Gastro and Gas Stop (My favorite!)
  • Add spices such as cumin, fennel or ginger to the cooking water for flavor and to help digestibility.

If you are new to eating beans, start with smaller amounts and increase over time. It takes the body time to adapt and get used to digesting the starches and fiber. Your digestive tract is made up of a “zoo” of bacteria that help digest your food. Over time, these bacteria will establish a new balance that is better at digesting beans and vegetables. 


Dr. Joanne Aponte is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor & Holistic Wellness Expert. She is available in the store every Tuesday & Thursday from 12-7 to help answer your questions regarding natural wellness.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The information is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of any medical condition or disease. The statements about products have not been evaluated by the food and Drug Administration. This information does not replace the one-on-one advice of your personal health care provider. It is recommended that you consult with your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to your health care routine.

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