Do You Know Nutrition: Beans rated for gas production

By Phylis Canion
April 15, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 14, 2014 at 11:15 p.m.

Can you please tell me why some beans cause me to have so much gas and others do not? It is embarrassing.

The problem with flatulence, or what we casually call gas, is produced by the fermentation of the complex sugar oligosaccharide, found in beans and some other vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli.

The small intestine does not have the proper enzyme to break this sugar down, but as it passes into the large intestine, bacteria breaks it down and ferments the sugar-producing hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide gases.

The following list was released by the United States Department of Agriculture's Western Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. The list is in order of those beans that produce the most gas to the beans that contain the lowest amount of sugar.

Soybeans are rated 10, (which may require a gas mask, pea beans 9, and black beans and pinto beans are rated 8.5, (which may still clear out the house). California small white beans are rated 8, Great Northern beans 7, lima beans 6.5, garbanzo beans or chick peas 6 and black-eyed peas 5.

The flatulence problem was studied among pilots since gas expands at higher altitudes, causing gut discomfort. At 35,000 feet, gas will expand to 5.4 times more than at sea level.

In the 1960s, astronauts were selected based on the individuals that produced the least amount of gas. The beans that caused the biggest problems were found to be navy and lima beans, with pinto beans trailing at third place.

What does the word "parve" that is listed on food packages mean? Sometimes, I see it with different letters in front on the word. Please explain.

Parve or pareve is used to identify kosher food and means neutral. By Jewish customs, that means that a product is neither meat nor dairy, has not been cooked or mixed with any meat or dairy and it does not contain any meat derivatives.

This also means that the food product is suitable for vegetarians and is considered 100 percent dairy-free, therefore, safe for someone following a strict casein-free diet.

The circle around the letter represents the letter "O" for Orthodox. If the circle contains the letter "K" before the word parve, that means that the product is kosher, and if there is the letter "U" circled in front of parve, that stands for Union.

Thought for the week: The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. - Abraham Lincoln

The next free nutrition class will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Cuero Wellness Center.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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