Last week we talked about legumes, specifically peanuts, and how they aren’t the best nutritional choice for a variety of reasons. This week we are going to dig a little deeper into beans. My post from last year concerning beans talks a lot about the phytic acid and lectin content in legumes. As I mentioned in last week’s post , maybe we don’t need to be so freaked out about these anti-nutrients because with proper preparation much of the anti-nutrients can be reduced. So if this is the case, then why don’t so many digest beans? Why is there a product called Beano whose advertisement goes a little something like this:
Unlike gas medicines, Beano® contains a natural enzyme that can help prevent gas before it starts. Available in a convenient tablet or meltaway, Beano® helps you digest the complex carbohydrates in many of your favorite healthy foods – not just beans. With Beano®, you can comfortably enjoy nutritious foods that are an essential part of a healthy diet.
A “natural enzyme” to help digest the “complex carbohydrate,” do you actually know what this means? A song I used to sing as a kid comes to mind; “Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot. The more you toot the better you feel, so eat beans at every meal.” Did I just bring back a childhood memory for you too? Well this song is actually talking about FODMAPS. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These types of carbohydrates are incompletely absorbed in the GI tract and are easily fermented by gut bacteria. The sugars in the gut that are created & not digested trigger an osmotic effect which pulls fluid towards the bowels. So the combination of fermentation and osmosis caused by the undigested sugars is what makes so many feel bloated & gassy or can cause some to have diarrhea. ( source )
In my opinion, if you have to take Beano in order to safely eat beans, then you don’t tolerate them and therefore shouldn’t be eating them on a regular basis. Your body is talking to you; are you listening? It’s saying I don’t like this food so please stop eating it. Taking a medication to ultimately force your body into digesting food it doesn’t tolerate well is not a good idea.
More Reasons to Reduce Bean Consumption
They are not a nutritionally dense source of food. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) is a scoring system that rates foods on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content.
found on Pinterest
As you can see from the photo, kale has an ANDI score of 1000 and cola has an ANDI score of 1. The first legume we see on the list are lentils (at the very bottom) with a score of 104. That’s pretty far away from 1000 just saying. And for those of you missing peanut butter right now, check out its score of 26! Whole Foods Market has a great link on their site that lists the ANDI score of green vegetables, non-green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, fruit, and herbs. Check it out here . I use this guide to get my kids to try new vegetables. I got my kids to eat kale by teaching them that it’s the most nutritious vegetable there is. I tried this theory with asparagus that didn’t go over as well. But hey, at least it worked for kale.
Beans are a dense source of CARBOHYDRATE. In my legume post from last year , I show you the nutritional breakdown of chickpeas and how they are 65% carbohydrate, 22% protein, and 13% fat. The majority of your carbohydrates should come from non-starchy vegetables first like kale, spinach, asparagus, etc., and starchy vegetables second like squash (butternut, acorn, etc.), potatoes, yams, yucca, etc. Remember that I teach and promote a nutrient dense, whole foods approach to eating. When you see the nutritional breakdown it is clear that beans are not a nutritionally dense food. If you like beans & you tolerate them, I have no problem with you eating them in small amounts as in a garnish on a salad or mixed into chili. But to eat large portions of beans means that they are displacing more nutrient dense foods. That’s where I have a problem. If my kids want to eat homemade hummus with carrots rock on, at least I am getting them to eat carrots.
But for now, if you are following my Ease Your Way into Paleo approach then I need you to begin to eliminate them to continue the healing process. If at the end of this challenge (4 weeks!), upon reintroduction, you find that you tolerate them, then by all means add them back into your diet. That is what is so great about this plan; it’s a temporary period where you are figuring out what works for you as an individual.
Best of luck this week and as always, let me know if you have any questions.