Beans and lentils are little powerhouses of nutrients. They are rich in protein, fibre, iron, zinc, calcium and B-vitamins to support energy production and repair in the body.
However, I often get clients say to me that they can’t eat beans and lentils because they make them bloated or gassy.
Well, if you’re someone who avoids beans and lentils because of the windy effect they have on you, then I have good news! There may be a simple explanation and solution to help you add these versatile, nutritional gems into your diet. And even if you’re not struggling to digest them, I suggest you still read on because how you prepare these foods could help you maximise their nutritional qualities.
Beans and lentils are coated with phytates also known as phytic acid. Phytates act as protection in nature. But for us humans they can affect how easily we can digest these foods and have been called “anti-nutrients” because they reduce the absorption of the vitamins and minerals contained in these foods.
Removing these phytates is simpler than you might think and can have significant benefit.
How to remove phytates from beans and lentils
If you’re using dried beans or lentils place them in a bowl or jug and cover with cold water. Leave them to soak overnight or for at least 2 hours, then drain and rinse with fresh water before cooking as per instructions. An added bonus of soaking your dried beans/lentils is that it can reduce the cooking time. If you forget to soak your beans/lentils then simply rinse them well before cooking – it’s not the best option but better than nothing and sometimes when life is busy that has to be good enough.
If you’re using cooked beans or lentils from a tin or packet, drain them in a sieve and rinse well in cold water. You will see a white foam when you wash your beans and lentils – wash them until this disappears – it can take a few minutes. Then your beans and lentils are ready to use as per your recipe
Looking for some lentil recipe inspiration? Check out my simple lentil dahl, served with gluten-free chapatis.