You may have heard about the benefits of dietary fiber, but such diets have one drawback: flatulence. That’s why our readers get excited about no-gas beans.
How Fiber Helps the Heart:
People who consume diets rich in fiber are less susceptible to heart problems, especially after a heart attack. Harvard epidemiologists analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (Li et al, BMJ, online April 29, 2014). The investigators reviewed dietary information from approximately 4,000 men and women who had survived a heart attack. Total daily fiber intake was calculated and the volunteers were followed for nine years.
Those who consumed the most dietary fiber were 15% less likely to die during the study. Beans and legumes have lots of fiber and provided protection. Fiber from grain, such as wheat bran, was even more effective, dropping the risk of death by 28% for those who ate the most. Those who increased their fiber intake after suffering a heart attack were able to boost their chances of survival.
Beans for the Heart:
Previous research has shown that beans contribute to a heart-healthy diet. Many organizations recommend that people with diabetes limit their consumption of fat. As a result, the diet tends to be rather high in carbohydrates. Some experts believe that this dietary pattern increases insulin resistance and makes control of type 2 diabetes more challenging.
A randomized study of 120 individuals with type 2 diabetes demonstrated that a low glycemic-index diet containing a cup of beans, chickpeas or lentils daily helped lower blood pressure, modestly improved blood sugar control and reduced risk factors for heart disease (Archives of Internal Medicine, Nov.26. 2012). The volunteers followed a diet containing a cup of beans daily or a diet containing a number of whole-grain foods such as breakfast cereal, whole wheat bread or brown rice. After three months, those on the bean diet had lowered their HbA1c and their blood pressure more than those on the whole-grain diet. The authors concluded that adding beans to a low G-I diet might be a relatively easy way for people with diabetes to reduce their likelihood of heart disease.
You may not find that whole grains such as steel-cut oats or bulgur wheat cause digestive distress. But plenty of people have problems with gas after they eat a big helping of beans. One reader came to the rescue with instructions.
How Can You Fix No-Gas Beans?
Q. You recently wrote about how to prepare no-gas beans. You did not share my strategy. It never fails!
Cover beans with water and bring to a boil. Add one teaspoon of baking soda and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour off the water. Add new water and seasonings and cook until done. You will have no-gas beans.
A. Thank you for your suggestion. Others have suggested a slightly different strategy. Use nine parts water to one-part beans. Bring beans to a boil and cook for three minutes. Allow the beans to cool for four hours and discard the water. Add fresh water and heat for half an hour. Once again, discard the cooking water. Finally, add more fresh water, cook until the beans are done and discard the water the last time.
Some people find that Beano is also helpful in counteracting gas production. This product contains alpha-galactosidase which breaks down the complex sugars in beans (oligosaccharides) that give rise to flatulence.