Green, Light Brown, White, and Red Colored beans

Forget What Your Mother Taught You: Stop Soaking Beans Before Cooking


by Rhonda Marzoq

Think about the words healthy lifestyle? Wild guess, beans weren’t the first thing that came to mind. However, the words exercise or healthy eating probably crossed your mind. While beans may not be a defining factor of healthy living, they are very important to living a healthy lifestyle.

Beans are great thing to include in your daily diet. Beans are a type of superfood meaning that they are very beneficial and rich in nutrients. By definition, beans are a type of legume, but, in regard to dietary intake, beans count as a serving of protein or vegetables.  They are also full of vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants. 

The health benefit of beans is indisputable, but the way beans are being used in cooking has raised some controversy.

The rule of thumbs when it comes to cooking beans is to soak them in some water. However, new information has physicians around the world debating whether beans should be soaked or not before being cooked. Through extensive research, what has become an accepted rule in health is in the process of being debunked.

Dr. Alan Christianson cites the commonly stated bean myths behind the soaking of beans to be:

  • the reduction of phytic acid
  • increase the digestibility
  • shorten the cooking time
  • improve the taste

Bean Myth #1: Soaking Beans to Reduce Phytic Acid

Many people soak beans in order to reduce the levels of phytic acid present in beans. However, soaking beans only reduces phytic acid levels by 16-21%.

With that said, the question of whether the phytic levels in beans should be reduced needs to be asked.

Phytic acid is a natural substance present in the seeds of plants that can affect the human body’s ability to absorb minerals and its intestinal tract. 

Studies have shown the negative effect of phytic acid on the body is negligible. Phytic acid actually has more benefits than disadvantages.

Phytic acid has been shown to reduce the risks of contracting certain types of cancer, detoxify the human body of heavy metals, and reduce the risk of diabetes and other types of diseases.

Bean Myth #2: Soaking Beans to Increase Digestibility

When consuming beans many people are concerned with the possible gas and flatulence that may follow. Studies have shown that the resulting gas from eating beans is due to expectations and Raffinose.

Expectations: This is a type of psychological phenomenon as it depends on the belief that you will have gas after eating beans. If you believe that you will have flatulence issues after consuming beans, your body tends to fulfill that belief. Whether the flatulence is actually due to the beans is not completely true.

Raffinose: Raffinose is a carbohydrate that interacts with the gut flora when beans are consumed. The gas, which is caused by extra methane and hydrogen gas being exuded, after bean consumption is the result of the Raffinose and the gut flora not having very much interaction prior to eating beans. Luckily, this reaction goes away shortly after introducing beans to your diet.

Bean Myth #3: Soaking Beans to Improve Taste and Shorten Cook Time

In regard to the cook time and overall look of the beans, studies have shown that many groups prefer the taste and texture of the un-soaked beans.

However, to improve the taste Dr. Christianson follows a cooking method from Epicurious that improves the digestibility, taste, texture, and nutrient content of beans.

The cooking method consists of placing dry beans into a pot, filling the pot with water until the beans are fully submerged, and cooking the beans on the stove until it reaches a boll.

After a boil is reached, remove the pan from the stove and let the beans rest and cool for approximately an hour. When the sit time has finished, it is up to personal preference on how much more the beans need to be cooked.

Beans are a great food option, as well as source of protein, to properly take care of your body and nourish it. However, next time you cook some beans think about whether soaking them is as beneficial as you initially thought.

Mini Bio: Dr. Alan Christianson is a naturopathic medical doctor, NY-Bestselling author, and media personality. His emphasis is on natural endocrinology and thyroid disorders. His philosophy on medicine focuses on patient center preventive care with an emphasis on education and providing manageable care for his patients.

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