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Now eat your beans

Fermenting beans for few days could reduce a flatulence causing compound.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 26, 2004 18:45 IST

Researchers have discovered that by fermenting beans for few days they could reduce a flatulence causing compound, called a-galactosides, up to 95 per cent and also make it more nutritious, according to a report published in the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Researchers at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, could reduced the compounds in white beans by fermenting it for two to four days. "We have found a simple and economic method of lowering one of the flatulence compounds most difficult to eliminate by the traditional methods of bean processing," says study author Marisela Granito.

An added benefit, she says, was that the fermentation process also increased the bioavailability of the nutrients in the bean, making it potentially more nutritious.

"People have some 'turbulence,' shall we say, when they eat beans, and I'm sure they avoid them because of their antisocial consequences," says Maureen Storey, director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech University. "But beans are a wonderful source of low-fat protein, so anything that can encourage people to eat more beans is a good thing."

For the study, Granito and her colleagues used a natural fermentation process to see if they could reduce the compound. They also looked at reducing soluble dietary fibre, which is also associated with flatulence.

They found the fermentation removed all the soluble fiber. The a-galactosides were reduced dramatically, by 72 per cent after 48 hours to 95 per cent after 96 hours. Also improved was the nutritional value of the beans.

First Published: Feb 06, 2004 21:49 IST