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F.ood & H.ealth : T.echnologies Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Eating beans does not have to cause flatulence - study
By Sue Mueller
Apr 26, 2006, 18:11

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Beans can be part of a healthy diet, but flatulence associated with its consumption keeps many people from enjoying it. Scientists have now found fermented and cooked beans are much less capable of producing the socially offensive gas, according to a new study.

Flatulence is caused by bacteria that harbor in the large intestine that break down gas-producing compounds in food such as raffinose in beans. The gas bacteria produce exits from the rectum.

The study, published online on April 26 in a recent issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that treated with a culture of certain intestinal bacteria, beans could not produce as much gas as the untreated beans.

In the study, Marisela Granito of Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela and colleagues identified two lactic acid producing bacteria, which are commonly found in the gut, namely Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum that discompose the gas-producing carbohydrates in black beans or Phaseolus vulgaris.

Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum are harmless. When food unabsorbed in the small intestine passes through the large bowel, the bacteria break down part of it for their own use.

For the study, the researchers isolated the bacteria and grew them in the lab. Then, they treated black beans with these two gut bacteria, a process called fermentation.

Two key flatulence-producing compounds were significantly reduced in the fermented beans - soluble fiber by 63 percent and raffinose, a major gas-producing sugar, by 88 percent, the researchers found.

The fermented beans became more nutritious after the were cooked under atmospheric pressure. Cooking increased the nutritional value by lowering the trypsin inhibitors and tannins as well as increasing the in vitro and in vivo digestibility of the beans.

Many foods contain compounds that can cause flatulence. The gas-causing compounds include, but not limited to, raffinose most commonly found in beans, lactose in dairy products, and fructose and sorbital found in fruits and some vegetab1es. Another major flatulence-causing compound is soluble fiber found in oat bran, beans, peas, and most fruits.

Flatulence can be a healthy sign. If one never gets it, his diet may not contain sufficient fiber and health carbohydrates found in fruits and beans, and or his system may not have enough probiotic bacteria.

Flatulence is a normal phenomenon in those who eat healthy foods such as beans. Most people experience it 14 to 23 times a day, according to But too much gas could be indicative of carbohydrate malabsorption.

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