December 24, 2016 1:29 pm Leave your thoughts
This year the UN has celebrated the International Year of the Pulse – you may have got wind of it. You might think that these kinds of initiatives are all just lot of hot air – a bit of a gas, perhaps – or you might be blown away by the whole thing. But enough of the jokes! Beans, peas and lentils really don’t have to be milked for comic value. They’re good for your tummy, they’re good for your heart, and there’s plenty that you can do to avoid any adverse effects!
Beans, beans, good for your heart!
Firstly, it should be stressed that excess wind after eating pulses doesn’t affect everyone. If you’re accustomed to a wholefood diet, and you eat a lot of pulses generally, then your body may be better able to cope. But if you’re fairly new to this, or just one of those unfortunate people who tend to suffer regardless, then we have some suggestions to help you out!
Pulses and flatulence
Pulses cause flatulence because they’re made up of certain sugars (oligosaccharides) that our bodies find hard to break down. The sugars travel unmolested through the digestive system, all the way to the large intestine, where they meet up with huge numbers of bacteria. These bacteria begin to break down the sugars, producing hydrogen and methane gases as they do so.
Is there a way to ‘pass’ on the gas?
It might not be ideal, but overall, it’s a small price to pay for the amazing health benefits of pulses. High in protein, fibre and antioxidants, low in fat, great for steady blood sugar levels, and full of vitamins and minerals – you don’t want to cut these out of your diet just because someone might accuse you of denying/supplying, do you? In fact, it’s pretty clear that for optimum health, we should all increase the amount of pulses in our diets.
So…what can you do to reduce flatulence – if it’s bothering you?!
Musical fruit cures
- One tried and tested tip is to change the cooking water when you’re boiling up dried pulses halfway through. This is thought to remove the sugars that have already soaked into the earlier water.
- If you’re using tinned beans, rinse them well – probably a number of times – before using.
- Try adding a herb or two: Jamie Oliver swears by putting some winter (sometimes called ‘summer’) savory to his pan when cooking pulses. Asafoetida is another option.
- Add kombu or wakame (Japanese sea vegetables) to your pulse pan, for the same effect (and to give a wonderful savoury taste to the dish).
- Or, if you’re having a curry, think about including ginger and turmeric, which make the beans more digestible.
- If you don’t have any of those to hand, a pinch of baking soda added to your boiling water is believed to have the same effect.
- And…chew your beans properly! Don’t cram them in your mouth: take your time to eat them properly.
So – the year of the pulse might be nearly up, but please don’t stop eating pulses. Though we hope you do find a way to ‘pass’ on the gas!
Tags: baking soda, beans, chickpeas, dried peas, ginger, International Year of Pulses, kombu, lentils, Pulses, tinned beans, turmeric, UN, wakame, Wholefoods
This post was written by Yzanne