recent column about the best way to soak beans to retain
nutrients brought a response from Ana Carolina Fernandes, PhD
nutritionist and professor at Federal University of Santa
Catarina in Brazil. In 2010, her research team published an
article in the International Journal of Food Science &
Technology in which they reviewed the nutritional impact of
various methods of bean soaking and cooking. (Volume 45, pages
2209-2218 if youíre interested).
to our review," she wrote, "the best practice is
soaking beans overnight in water but discarding the water,
without boiling, before discarding it. This method not only
decreases gas but increases the bioavailability of some
nutrients, since some antinutritional factors are also
discarded. In other words, although there is some loss of
nutrients, the remaining contents are more digested and
absorbed than the nutrients from non-soaked beans."
what I gleaned from her informative article: Some compounds in
beans are considered "anti-nutrients" because they
can interfere with the absorption of some nutrients. Phytates,
for example, may reduce the bodyís ability to absorb iron,
calcium and other minerals. Fernandesí review found that
dumping the soaking water before cooking was the most
effective way to get rid of some of these phytates.
substances in beans called oligosaccharides contribute to the
unpleasant flatulence most of us wish to avoid. Soaking before
cooking and discarding the soaking water also seems to be an
effective way to reduce these oligosaccharides, says Fernandes.
are a good source of plant protein and cooking method does not
seem to affect their protein content, research has found. And
itís interesting that even though some calcium, magnesium
and iron can be lost in the soaking water, the minerals that
remain may be even more available for the body after cooking.
One reason is that some of the substances that interfere with
the digestion of these nutrients is tossed out with the
soaking water as well.
answer to comments from a reader on what he considered to be
misleading information about dietary fiber on bread labels
brought this response from him:
As Iím sure you know, adjusting both size of the loaf and
thickness of the slice, are common ways in which bakers
manipulate nutritional labels."
certainly do see different sizes of servings on Nutrition
Facts labels. Thatís because the food labeling law mandates
that serving sizes be based on the amounts that people eat. In
the case of the bread, the serving is "1 slice" and
the size of that one slice varies from product to product.