During a recent episode of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live,” host Andy Cohen boldly declared that his guest, Martha Stewart, doesn’t pass gas.
“I don’t eat beans,” she announced. “You don’t get the gas if you don’t eat beans.”
We hate to break it to Stewart, but you can’t stop the production of gas just by cutting out one food. But her confession brings up a very important point ― why do beans give people gas?
When we talk about “beans,” we’re not just talking about any type of beans. We’re referring to legumes, which are considered a class of vegetable encompassing black, navy, kidney adzuki, anasazi, fava, lima, green and garbanzo beans, along with black-eyed peas, edamame, split peas, lentils and soy nuts, according to the Mayo Clinic.
HuffPost reached out to Kelly Hogan, a clinical nutrition and wellness manager at Mount Sinai’s Dubin Breast Cancer center and Dr. Charles Mueller, PhD and clinical associate professor of nutrition at New York University, for a better explanation of why this magical fruit makes you, um … toot.
“Beans are high in oligosaccharides, which is a type of resistant starch that we cannot break down in our intestines and remain undigested until they reach the colon. Then, they are broken down by bacterial fermentation, which produces gas,” Hogan said. “This is different from other foods, hence the increased gassiness compared to other foods.”
Hogan said there are a few other foods that also contain oligosaccharides, including onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
She added that certain beans, like lentils and split peas, may be less gas-producing. And through certain cooking preparations, Hogan says it is possible to make your beans a bit less let gassy (though this technique has its critics).
“Soaking dried beans overnight and cooking with fresh water (not the soaking water) can help reduce the amount of oligosaccharides in the beans,” she said. “Cooking beans with kombu, a type of seaweed, can also help reduce the amount of oligosaccharides in the beans because it contains an enzyme that helps break them down. Make sure to rinse canned beans as well, since these oligosaccharides are water soluble and can leach out into the water.”
But much to Martha Stewart’s chagrin, it isn’t possible to totally avoid having has simply by cutting out beans.
“Gas is not just produced from food but from ‘swallowed’ air which passes through your GI track,” Mueller said. “Flatulence is perhaps embarrassing, [but] a normal bodily function. Be more concerned when you are NOT passing gas than when you are! If you have changes in your bowel habits (lots of gas, cramping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or no flatulence at all) that does not resolve, time to see a doctor.”
So the next time you do eat beans and accidentally pass a little gas, you can tell the unfortunate people within your vicinity that it would be more harmful for you if you held it in. Doctor’s orders!