Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Is There a Flatulence-Free Bean?

Many people avoid one of the least expensive and most versatile sources of protein and fiber, the bean, because of it produces gas. From the UK, however, comes the promise of a "gas-less" bean popularized by Dr. Colin Leakey.

Dr. Leakey first got interested in the academic study of beans and flatulence when he was working in public health in Kenya in the 1960's. Kenyan toddlers were malnourished because they were not getting enough protein, and their mothers did not feed them beans not because of gas, but because of colic.

The British researcher introduced Kenyan mothers to the manteca bean, grown for centuries in Chile. Tannins in the seed coat bind to calcium in the intestines in ways that change the pH and chemistry of digested food just enough to prevent the formation of gas.

These flatulence-free beans were hybridized so that they can be grown in climates outside Chile. As of this writing the British company Get Real is considering marketing them in Europe and the US.

What to do in the meantime? Well, the Anasazi (or Appaloosa) bean isn't gas-free, but it's a lot less gassy than the alternatives, especially compared to its better-known cousin, the pinto. And there are always two standy remedies: Beano, and simply eating so many beans (say, over a two week vacation you take by yourself in the woods) that your body develops enzymes to prevent gassiness.

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