Are beans necessary to eat for health? Certainly we know that most cultures have dishes that center around beans. Most places with a large percentage of centurions have many foods that include beans. Most Mediterranean countries have many recipes that utilize beans. But they also often combine them with other foods that make them easier to digest . For example, one Persian recipe uses some beans combined with yogurt and green vegetables. The yogurt helps to digest the beans much more. Many Mediterranean countries drink something made from yogurt, seltzer water, salt and sometimes mint. This is very good for the stomach and for digestion.
But , as we all know, there are many people who have a hard time digesting beans no matter what. If we eat beans and constantly suffer from gas or digestive distress, should we continue eating those beans?
Interestingly, the health rules of the Rambam did not suggest that eating beans often was very healthy. Some beans were beneficial, perhaps once or twice a month,but not every day and not as a constant part of one’s diet. Beans back in the ancient days were probably much healthier, fresher and easier to digest as well.
There is a lot of information now about lectins in beans, which makes them hard to eat and in fact sometimes even dangerous. Pressure cooking the beans removes a lot of the damage.
But in general, is it necessary to eat beans? I would venture to say no. It is not a bad idea to try to incorporate some beans into one’s diet. In asia, beans are often pressure cooked along with a stick of kombu seaweed to make them more digestible. Many people soak beans overnight to break down the fibers. There are various “tricks’ to help digest beans. One other thing to remember is to try not to combine beans with starches: it may make it harder to digest.
But if you really have difficulty eating beans, don’t eat them. You can get good fiber from whole grains, vegetables, fruits….you don’t have to use beans.
Protein of course is part of eating beans. But if you are eating some protein such as tofu (which, being fermented, is often easier to digest), eggs, fish and even meat and chicken, you are not lacking protein. And for those people who are vegan, you can also find other sources of protein (such as nuts, seeds, tahini and so on) that work well even without using beans.
So it is a very personal matter but do not be pressured into eating beans if your digestive system feels it is not beneficial for you. Having gas all the time is also not beneficial!
I believe that easy to digest foods tend to be absorbed more easily , meaning we also retain more nutrients from those foods, and our guts are happier.