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Soaked Beans – Healthier or Not?

Beans have always been popular whenever people talk about rich protein foods. Beans are seeds from different plants belonging to the flowering plant family Fabaceae. People use these seeds as vegetables for humans. People also use the seeds in cooking various dishes by baking, boiling or frying them. Studies prove beans are a good source of protein, iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc. 

Dried beans are available in the market as an affordable source of fibre and proteins and for their various health benefits. In addition, some brands manufacture ready-to-eat bean snacks, which are scrumptious but may contain additives and extra sodium, which you should avoid if you prepare these snacks at home.

Dried beans have an excellent nutritional profile, but it can be more beneficial if people soak them for hours or overnight before preparing them. Studies say that soaking them in water not only softens beans but also enhances their nutritional benefits. 

Is Soaking Beans Healthier Over Normal Beans?

Beans are a great source of nutrition, and several studies prove the same. They are rich in iron and have a good amino acid profile. However, some anti-nutrients are also present in beans, like phytic acid. Phytic acid in beans interferes with zinc, protein and iron absorption. Studies say that soaking beans helps reduce the phytic acid concentration of beans. Hence soaked bean vitamins are minerals that are easy to digest for our body.

Also, if people compare the nutritional profile of soaked beans and dried beans, dried beans have an excellent nutritional profile. You might see higher protein and nutrition content in dried beans than in soaked beans (as per 100g). It is because soaked beans hold water in themselves and making them heavier. Dried beans are moisture-free and contain all those micro and macronutrients in a more compact and compressed form.

Let’s look at the nutritional benefits of dried and soaked beans.

Dried Beans

According to the USDA, a 100g of raw dried beans contain:

Energy: 337 KcalProtein: 22.5gFat: 1.06gCarb: 61.3gFibre: 15.2gCalcium: 83mgIron: 6.69mgMagnesium: 138 mgPotassium: 406mgZinc: 2.79mg

Soaked Beans

According to USDA, 100g of soaked or boiled pinto beans contain:

Energy: 143 KcalProtein: 9.01gFat: 0.65gCarb: 26.2gFibre: 9gCalcium: 46mgIron: 2.09mgMagnesium: 50 mgPotassium: 436mgZinc: 0.98mg

From the above nutrition index comparison, raw beans are higher in nutritional profile. But it doesn’t mean that they are the best. As soaked beans contain water, this is the only reason it is low in nutritional profile. Soaked beans have much healthier benefits than raw and dried beans. Let us discuss some of them.

The HealthifyMe Note

Beans are an excellent source of protein. Soaked beans are easier to chew. It also improves the texture and shortens the cooking time. Furthermore, it lowers phytic acid, tannins, polyphenols, and anti-nutritional enzyme inhibitors.

Soaking Beans Benefits

Soaking beans are not only easy to chew as raw as they become soft and delicate after soaking. In addition, these soaked beans have other health benefits and scientific reasons that make them healthier.

Reduces Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is a compound in many plant-based foods, mainly in grains and beans. It is also called inositol hexaphosphate. Phytic acid in plants works as the storage of phosphorus inside beans, seeds, and nuts of that plant. Since this acid prevents the body from absorbing nutrients, it is highly scrutinised. It inhibits iron, zinc and calcium absorption in the body. 

Research also found that reducing the phytic acid improved the absorption of zinc, calcium and iron. Most consider beans a good source of these minerals, but only a few people know about phytic acid, which prevents these minerals from being absorbed into human bodies. Hence people must focus on eliminating these inhibitors and boosting the biological value of our foods.

When beans get soaked in water, they absorb water, leading to phytic acid’s release. After soaking beans for 12 hours, the phytic acid drops to 9% in peas. In some other beans, the percentage can be higher also. Try to soak beans overnight before consuming them to confirm that nutrition is well absorbed in your body.

Reduces Tannins and Polyphenols

Tannin is a micronutrient which is a subpart of polyphenols. Polyphenols are present in various kinds of fruits and nuts, and seeds. These micronutrients are also present in supplements. Although they are easy to get from the diet, these are good antioxidants and beneficial for health. But in the case of beans, polyphenols have some drawbacks also. 

Polyphenols bind positively charged minerals like iron, proteins and zinc with them. It makes these minerals unavailable for absorption. Reducing the effect of polyphenols may help to absorb these nutrients. Study shows soaking is an excellent way to get rid of polyphenols, including tannins. The enzyme polyphenol oxidase gets activated when soaking beans in water, which breaks down polyphenol. This polyphenol breakdown is soaked in water, thus making beans from mineral inhibitors. A significant reduction in polyphenols of beans can be noticeable after 3-4 hours of soaking beans.

Polyphenol is a nutritional component of the diet and one of the best oxidisers. But its presence in beans makes it work negatively, so one should always have soaked and polyphenol-free beans. Doing this also improves digestion.

Boost Nutritional Enzymes

Most of the plant’s seeds, beans and fruits contain some anti-nutritional enzymes. These enzymes have no beneficial effect on the body and need not be present in foods. These work negatively to reduce the biological value of food. Beans contain anti-nutritional enzymes such as trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors. The sad part is that these non-nutritive components also bind with nutritive elements like minerals such as iron or zinc, making them hard to absorb. 

Soaking beans helps reduce the extraction of such nutritive enemies of beans. Hence it improves the overall absorption of nutrients in the body and boosts beans’ biological value. It is usually effective if you soak beans overnight. However, a significant reduction of such anti-nutritional enzymes can happen in 4-5hours. If you do not want to wait that long, then you can go for 15-20 minutes soaking. It is better to soak them for a few minutes or an hour instead of not soaking them.

Eliminates Gas Causing Compounds

Having large quantities of beans generally leads to gas problems in most people. However, beans can cause bloating, gas problems, farting and flatulence in some people. The reason behind such issues is that people cannot digest oligosaccharides.

Etymologically, oligosaccharide means a few saccharides. A saccharide refers to the unit structure of carbohydrates. Thus, an oligosaccharide is a carbohydrate comprised of a few saccharides, i.e. about three to ten (mono) saccharide units. As the body cannot digest it in the small intestine, it moves to the large intestine, which uses these oligosaccharides, which makes a lot of gas and abdominal rumbling, sometimes leading to diarrhoea. 

Soaking beans is found beneficial in the reduction of such compounds. It makes beans free from the oligosaccharides effect and easy to digest without complications. It is not necessary to soak beans to get rid of them. If someone in a hurry wants to consume them, soaking them for 15-20minutes is helpful too. One can also try boiling them before cooking them if one wants maximum benefit.

When people cook beans, make them boil for some time. This process is done to eliminate anti-nutritive compounds and make them softer quickly. Cooking might be fast, but people can leave soaked beans overnight. It helps them get softer, eliminates gas-causing compounds, boosts nutritional enzymes and reduces tannins and polyphenols. This process is much better than boiling beans as some of the essential nutrients also get eliminated after boiling beans. Hence soaking beans overnight before cooking or consuming them is a better option.

The HealthifyMe Note

Consuming soaked beans at least four times a week can aid weight loss more than any other bean-free diet. The presence of anti-nutrients, fibres and proteins in soaked beans is the crucial reason that contributes to the weight loss benefits provided by the item. In addition, proteins and other nutrients reduce starches’ digestion, which aids weight loss. So, if you wish to lose weight, including soaked beans in your diet can help you a lot.  

How to Soak and Cook Dried Beans

It is money-saving and a healthy approach to cooking your bean dish on your own. It is a step-by-step approach to soaking and cooking beans from a dried state to a creamy and delicious dish. These should not only be considered for their creamy and delicious taste as they are also:

Frugal

Cooking beans at home is a cost-saving process. However, canned beans are much costlier than their actual cost.

Healthier than Canned

Canned beans have added salt and preservatives, which are unsuitable for overall health. Soaking beans at home is pure, healthy and free from additives.

Packed with Nutrients

Beans are always very nutritious and high in folic acid, iron and fibre. These are essential in a daily diet’s complete vitamin and mineral profile.

Ingredients Used

Beans: There are a variety of beans like black beans, white beans, red kidney beans, or pinto beans. The preparation method for all these beans is pretty much the same.

Preparation

Soaking Dried Beans

To remove any dirt or impurities, take dried beans in a container and rinse them well.

Add water- 800mlAdd beans in water- 200gAllow beans to soak for 8 hours to 24 hours. You can also soak them overnight before bed.

However, it is not essential to always add four times more water to beans. You can take it 5-6times of beans but do not reduce water by this limit. Beans absorb moisture and release some micro components in water, so water should be sufficient for all this.

For making black beans, you should add some lemon juice or whey powder for each 100g of beans. All other kinds of beans are good with just water.

After soaking for hours or a day, rinse them well. This step is helpful in the removal of gas-producing components of these beans.Again, add the same amount of water, 800ml plus 200ml extra water.Place the container with beans and water on the stove and let it boil.After reaching boiling point, turn off the gas and cover the stove.Let it stay for 8 hours.Rinse the water and do not try to consume this water. Instead, you can pour it into plants or serve it to animals.

The water of soaked beans contains all non-essential anti-nutritive components found in beans. Therefore, consuming them will decrease your digestive efficiency. Up to this step, the soaking process of beans ends. 

Now let’s discuss the cooking process.

Cooking Process

Add soaked beans to a container and add water 2 inches above the level of beans.Cook them for 90 to 120minutes if you want the beans to soften.If you want to consume them as partially cooked, then 45minutes of cooking is enough.

Avoid excessive dryness in the beans by keeping sufficient water for cooking. However, if they become dry while cooking, add some more water.

Rinse water after the boiling processNow add some pepper, salt and seasonings to add some tasteYou can also add garlic, onion or cumin seeds to boost the flavour.

Summary

This article briefly discusses soaked beans and how they are beneficial over dried beans. Consuming soaked beans is helpful to digest them and reduce your cooking time easily. The soaking process also extracts some unwanted and harmful components out of beans, reducing the absorption of micronutrients. Soaking also helps eliminate gas-making features like oligosaccharides that are unsuitable for human consumption. It makes the beans soft so people can consume them without cooking them. Preparing soaked beans is very time-saving and quick if you leave them soaked in water overnight. It would be best if you soaked beans for 8-24hours to get the best out of them.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. Is it best to soak beans before cooking?

A. Soaking beans before cooking saves cooking time as it softens beans. Soaking beans for 1-2hours before cooking will give them improved texture and softness and reduce cooking time. You can also soak beans overnight or for more than 8 hours to get the maximum benefit.

Q. What is the purpose of soaking beans before cooking?

A. Purpose of soaking beans before cooking might be to save time but is not always the primary reason. Soaking beans have various health benefits over softening them. They become free from phytic acid and polyphenols, and other non-essential components. It improves the digestion of beans.

Q. Do I soak beans in hot or cold water?

A. However, it doesn’t matter if you are soaking beans for more extended hours or a whole day. But if you are soaking them before an hour of cooking, it will be better to use hot water. Hot water will act more fastly and reduce anti-nutritive enzymes.

Q. Can you soak beans too long?

A. Soaking beans for a longer duration is beneficial. But people should not overdo it. Soaking beans overnight or for 8-10 hours is a general time. However, for maximum benefit, you can consider soaking beans for up to 24 hours. But try not to soak them for longer than a day as bacterial growth is possible.

Q. Do I need to refrigerate beans while soaking?

A. Ideally, after soaking beans for 8-10hours or leaving them overnight soaked, you should rinse them properly and refrigerate them if you are not ready to cook. It will prevent further fermentation and bacterial growth in beans which is harmful to health.

Q. What to do if you forgot to soak beans overnight?

A. Soaking beans overnight is best to get maximum benefit. However, if you forgot to soak them overnight, you can also wash them for an hour before cooking, or if you can’t wait that long, you can boil them in hot water for minutes and let them cool down.

Q. How long should you soak beans before cooking?

A. Beans can be soaked for 1-2hours before cooking or longer. The longer you soak them, the more pure and easy-to-digest beans you will get. Try not to soak beans longer than 24 hours. 8-10hours is the ideal time to soak beans.

Q. Are beans poisonous if not soaked?

A. Beans are good sources of all macro and micronutrients and the best food at a reasonable price. Beans are not poisonous, but they contain some unwanted components which can cause complications in some people. These compounds can be phytic acid, tennis or oligosaccharides, which reduce vitamin and mineral absorption.

Q. Does soaking beans remove gas?

A. Oligosaccharides found in beans are responsible for gas formation. The small intestine does not absorb this compound; when it moves to the large intestine, it forms gas, resulting in abdominal pain and flatulence. Soaking beans removes this component to a great extent.

Q. Can I soak beans in tap water?

A. You can soak beans in tap water. It doesn’t cause any difference in quality. However, you should rinse them in clean water after soaking them for the required time. It might be possible that tap water may contain unwanted impurities, which may stick on soaked beans, and rinse them properly in clean drinking water to remove those impurities.

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