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problems digesting many legumes

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Hello all!

I'm not a vegan (actually, not fully a vegetarian either, but that is not a matter for this board, except for the desire to cut down on animal-based products) and have a terrible time digesting most legumes. I can usually handle lentils (which I love) and very well cooked white beans, as in soups or stews. I love black beans, but they don't always love me. And yes, of course I've tried Beano.

One thing I'm wondering is if edamame are easier to digest than riper, dried soya beans.

When in Amsterdam, I was pleased to have had no digestive upset eating fermented tempeh. It is hard to find in many places, except for ludicrously expensive and overflavoured versions in some healthfood stores. The quest for plain Indonesian tempeh (yum) continues.


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  1. Soybeans are actually the most difficult whole beans to digest unless they're fermented. Mung beans, lentils and adzuki beans are the easiest, any other beans will give you more of a problem.

    Some tips that should help:
    - Cook your own dried beans instead of buying canned or pre-cooked, and *soak* them first. The longer the soak, the better, and it should be at least 24 hours.
    - When you do cook them, add a piece of kombu to the water.
    - Turmeric, ginger, cumin, epazote, dill seed, coriander seed and fennel can all help with digestion and reduce your reaction.
    - Seasoning them with any form of acid (like vinegar or citrus juice) will help break down some of the compounds that are difficult for you to digest.

    One final thought - if certain fruits, vegetables & sugars give you similar trouble, you may actually have fructose malabsorption.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I usually add the kombu to the soaking water too. Julia Child also had a way of cooking beans with a pinch of baking soda to reduce any negative effects.

    2. Try eating a tiny amount of legumes a day. Very gradually increase your consumption. Worked for me and my family members. Your body just needs to get used to them.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca

        +1 your gut will create the bacteria necessary to process

      2. you make me feel so lucky.
        the burger joint within walking distance of my house makes an incredible "burger" on a whole wheat bun out by substituting indonesian tempeh strips for meat.
        the entire deal is:
        whole wheat burger bun
        strips of indonesian tempeh briefly deep fat fried
        fresh tomato slice
        fresh lettuce
        grilled caramelized onions

        and then, for a $1 upcharge i have them add their Yuzu jalepeno slaw which is made using a vinaigrette NOT mayonaise.

        1. If they don't agree with you, why eat them?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            For non animal-source complete protein, of course.