Sunday, February 21, 2010

28 Day Real Food Challange: Day 20 - Maximizing the Nutrient Value of Beans and Legumes

This is the challenge that most people are familiar with and I've done quite a few recipes on beans and legumes on this blog. Here's a post Improving Legumes Digestibility which is very helpful most especially if you have a weak digestive system.

And to further improve the nutrient uptake of beans and legumes, here's day 20 from Nourished Kitchen.

Earlier in the challenge we discussed the essential role that sprouting, souring or soaking grain offers in terms of mitigating naturally antinutrients like phytic acid which are naturally present in whole grain. Yesterday, we returned to the subject by addressing enzyme inhibitors naturally present in nuts and seeds - and what we can do to neutralize such antinutrients. Today, we'll wrap up the discussion by touching on the benefits and detriments of another popular plant food: beans and legumes.

Beans and legumes are rich sources of nutrients: folate which is critical for reproductive function and the prevention of birth defects as well as a wide array of minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper. Yet, without proper preparation of this wholesome and inexpensive food, your body is not fully able to absorb the nutrients.

Beans and legumes, much like grains, nuts and seeds, can offer great variety to the human diet as well as an impressive array of vitamins and minerals; however, their value is hampered by phytic acid that pesky antinutrient we discussed at length earlier this month which binds to minerals and prevents your body from full absorbing them. Nutrition researcher Amanda Rose of Rebuild from Depression indicates that properly preparing beans and legumes may increase mineral absorption by 50 - 100%. That's a worthwhile pursuit.

To properly soak beans you need three components: warmth, acicity and time. In combination, these three factors can mitigate the effects of phytic acid and enable your body to fully absorb their vital minerals. Ideally, beans should be soaked in water heated to 140 degrees fahrenheit to which you've added a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar or other acidic ingredient for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 48 hours. Fewer than twelve hours may not allow adequate time to effectively neutralize naturally present antinutrients, while a soaking period of longer than 48 hours may result in funky flavor.

An effective way of accomplishing this is to heat water on the stove until quite warm, mix in some cider vinegar and pour over your beans or legumes. Cover the pot to help the water retain its warmth and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen. Soak the beans for 12 to 48 hours, rinse, drain and prepare as you normally would, knowing that the cooking time will be decreased.

Keep in mind that you needn't be rigid in your adherence to temperature, time and acidity. Do the best you can and enjoy your time in the kitchen.

Today's assignment is to prepare a batch of beans or legumes, maximizing their nutrient-density by paying attention to warmth, acidity and time.

Day #20 Check List:

Prepare a pot of beans:

Further Reading:
Read more about properly preparing beans:


  1. Great blog post. Very informative. I love beans, but always buy canned. I'd love to get away from the added sodium, and besides, dried beans are so cheap. I could save the environment from all those cans, and save some money. Thank you!

  2. hi Divine Pe, coming by from my personal blog at to visit u for the first time.. nice to know u.. :)

  3. I might just try again and see how I go with beans and legumes. Maybe baby steps.

  4. really do enjoy your articles - I have heard of vinegar but have never tried it - we always use baking soda ... do you think it does the same?

  5. @ Mother Rimmy - Thank you. It does save a lot of money.

    @ reanaclaire - thanks for visiting and nice to meet you too.

    @ Penny - Baby steps would do but I do understand because I'm experiencing it with other foods as well.

    @ Drick - I've heard of people use baking soda and it think it does the same thing. :)

  6. Thanks for the tips, Divina. I never really considered all these before, and I should, as I love beans (never had a problem digesting them, thankfully)

  7. Great article, I learn alot from your blog

  8. Beans are my favourite too. I love making desserts with beans.
    I'd like to clarify one thing that I'm not sure while reading your informative post. Would the beans that soaked in warm water with acid become tangy? Because I haven't tried this method before, just to make sure before trying. Thanks in advance.

  9. This is like getting to go to school for free, just awesome and informative. I love beans, and feel more knowledgeable now about how to maximize their nutritional benefits.

  10. I knew about adding kombu to aid in bean digestion, but I learned a few other tips from that beans post! I love beans, they just don't always love me back. Great post!

  11. this series has been so informative divina! this especially was a useful article with the addition of the vinegar component! thanks for sharing!

  12. Wow I had NO idea that you were suppose to soak beans in vinegar. I am really enjoying your informative food posts that you've been doing recently, if I'm going to eat healthy I might as well make sure I am benefiting from the nutrition at the maximal degree! I have been planning to incorporate more beans into my diet so thank you for sharing this!

  13. We definitely need more beans and legumes in our diet. My husband's not a big fan but at least I have to cook more of those for myself and my daughter.

  14. Excellent post very nutritive and informative. I eat beans when is possible and I want more, after reading it :)

    Have a great week,


  15. Great article about a better way to cook it. I usually soak it and then cook in pressure cooker. It's great to know that adding acid is good. I will do that next time.


Your comments, suggestions, feedback are all welcome.