Chickpeas are popular legumes owing to their high nutritional value and versatility. They are used in various dishes, including salads and stews. Nevertheless, eating chickpeas can result in unpleasant effects like gas and bloating for some people.
Fortunately, people can reduce these side effects in various ways and still enjoy these delicious legumes. This article will cover everything about chickpeas and why they cause gas and offer tips on reducing their impact on your stomach.
Reasons Chickpeas Cause Gas
There are two primary reasons why chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, cause gas. Let’s explore each reason in detail:
1. Chickpeas Have High Oligosaccharides Levels
Like most foods, chickpeas have oligosaccharides, a complex sugar the human body can’t digest.
Some common oligosaccharides found in chickpeas include verbascose, stachyose, and raffinose. Once these oligosaccharides reach the large intestine while not digested, bacteria break them down through fermentation.
This process produces a gas by-product that can cause discomfort, flatulence, and bloating in some individuals.
The oligosaccharide levels in chickpeas differ depending on the processing and cooking method used and the variety.
Overall, canned chickpeas have higher oligosaccharide levels than dried chickpeas since they aren’t soaked or rinsed before canning.
2. Chickpeas Have High Fibre Content
The fibre levels in chickpeas are very high; with every 100g of cooked peas, chickpeas have 7.6 g of fibre.
Chickpeas have two kinds of fibre; soluble and insoluble. The soluble fibre usually dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, while the insoluble fibre helps regulate bowel movement by adding bulk to stool.
When you consume chickpeas, the soluble fibre absorbs water in the gut to form a gel-like substance that makes it difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the chickpeas, and this causes gas production.
On the other hand, the insoluble fibre in chickpeas fibre bulk into stools and helps move food through the digestive tract. However, too much insoluble fibre too quickly can cause gas and bloating.
3. Chickpea allergies
Chickpea allegory occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies the proteins in chickpeas as harmful. While chickpea allergy is relatively uncommon, it can cause various symptoms that are uncomfortable or life-threatening in severe cases.
Some of the symptoms of chickpea allergy include:
- Itchy or swollen mouth, throat, or tongue
- Hives or skin rash
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing or coughing
- Anaphylaxis; is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
Chickpea allergy is usually diagnosed using a combination of physical exams, symptoms review, and tests like blood tests.
The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid eating foods that have chickpeas, like falafel and hummus. Ensure you read labels carefully when buying food, as chickpeas are found in unexpected foods like snacks and stews.
If you have a severe chickpea allergy, always carry epinephrine with you.
4. Contaminated chickpeas
An adverse reaction when you eat chickpeas can also occur if you eat contaminated chickpeas.
If you get food poisoning from eating chickpeas, you’ll experience symptoms like:
- Stomach cramps
If you have a stomach upset each time you eat chickpeas, chances are that it isn’t food poisoning; it could be an allergic reaction.
5. The FODMAP Story
Chickpeas create more gas than most foods because they belong to a food group that contains sugars known as Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polysaccharides (FODMAPs).
FODMAPs are Fermentable sugars that produce gas when fermentation occurs in the gut.
5. The Saponin Story
Chickpeas also cause gas because they have saponins. Saponins make plants taste horrible to insects, and they can cause stomach pain and gas if someone’s sensitive to them.
Saponins irritate the digestive tract lining, which causes the release of gas. Saponins also disrupt gut bacteria, which can cause an overgrowth of bacteria that cause gas, further contributing to flatulence and bloating.
Reasons Not To Eliminate Chickpeas From Your Diet
While you may experience bloating when consuming chickpeas, avoiding them is unnecessary. Chickpeas are highly nutritious, contain high protein and fibre, and are a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t avoid chickpeas:
- Nutrient density: Chickpeas contain various nutrients, including minerals and vitamins. For instance, they have high fibre, stabilising blood sugar levels, lowering cholesterol, and promoting digestion.
- Variety in diet: Restricting foods can lead to a lack of variety and nutrient deficiencies.
How to Make Chickpeas Less Gassy
If you have a chickpea allergy, you must avoid eating chickpeas altogether. However, if you get an upset stomach every time you eat chickpeas because of the substances present in them, there are some steps you can follow to reduce digestive issues, including:
1. Soak Chickpeas Before Cooking Them
The oligosaccharides present in chickpeas are water-soluble; therefore, soaking chickpeas before you cook them will release them. According to a 2019 study, soaking chickpeas reduces their oligosaccharide content by 40%.
Soak the chickpeas overnight or for approximately 18 hours. You can also add baking soda to the water to help make the process more effective. If you’re using canned chickpeas, rinse them before use to eliminate any gas-inducing substances.
2. Take A Supplement
Sometimes people experience bloating or flatulence after consuming chickpeas because they have indigestible oligosaccharides. Our bodies don’t digest oligosaccharides since we don’t produce adequate alpha-galactosidase, the enzyme required to break them down.
Taking a supplement with the alpha-galactosidase enzyme can assist digestion, reducing bloating or flatulence. Several over-the-counter enzyme supplements, such as Bean Assist and Beano, have this enzyme.
While there’s limited research on whether these supplements are truly effective, most users swear by them.
3. Eat Tinier ChickPea Portions
Experiencing digestive issues after eating chickpeas doesn’t mean you have to eliminate them from your diet. Reducing the number of chickpeas you consume can help reduce your issues. If consuming 100 g of chickpeas results in digestive issues, eating 50g will result in less pain.
You can reduce your chickpeas intake by bulking them with grains and veggies. You can also try dishes like chickpea bolognese, which uses a can of chickpeas to feed six people. This way, you eat tinier chickpea portions even though they significantly impact the meal.
4. Try Peppermint Tea Or Peppermint Oil
According to research, peppermint oil is an effective short-term treatment to ease IBS(Irritable Bowel Symptoms). It’s worth trying if you bloat after consuming chickpeas. Besides peppermint oil, you can also try taking peppermint tea.
Peppermint oil and tea have compounds with antispasmodic properties, thus relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract and helping to ease food movement reducing the risk of bloating and gas.
Mix several drops of peppermint oil with water or drink peppermint tea before and after eating chickpeas.
5. Increase Your Intake Gradually
When your body digests fibre, it causes gas production since the body struggles to digest it. Increasing your fibre intake quickly or eating large amounts of chickpeas at a go will result in digestive issues. Increase the intake gradually to help minimise the risks of this happening.
Gradually increasing your intake gives your digestive tract time to adjust to the complex sugars in chickpeas. As your digestive tract adjusts, it can produce the enzymes required to break the sugars down effectively, reducing bloating.
6. Chew Slower
Most people don’t chew their food well, leading to digestive issues. Chewing food slower aids digestion as the food is broken down into manageable sizes. Eating quickly can make you swallow air, which results in bloating.
When you eat quickly, you take large food bites and chew less, which means that large food particles that are harder to digest reach your digestive tract, thus resulting in increased gas production.
Chewing slower helps break chickpeas into tinier particles, allowing better nutrient absorption and reduced amounts of undigested material from reaching the large intestines.
7. Opt For Canned Chickpeas
Canned chickpeas are usually stirred in water and thus are more tolerable than fresh ones.
Canned chickpeas have already been cooked and are typically soaked and then pressure-cooked in water with a bit of salt, which helps break down some of the oligosaccharides.
This makes them easier to digest compared to uncooked chickpeas, reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort.
8. Rinse Canned Chickpeas Well
Rinsing canned chickpeas is essential, especially if you’re sensitive to saponins. Rinsing the chickpeas helps remove oligosaccharides, thus reducing the risks of developing digestive issues.
Canned chickpeas are usually soaked in aquafaba, which contains oligosaccharides. When you rinse the chickpeas before you eat them, you’ll remove some of the oligosaccharides; thus, the chickpeas will be easier to digest.
Rinsing canned chickpeas also helps remove excess salt in the aquafaba, which can contribute to digestive issues such as bloating.
9. Balance Meals
Balancing meals ensures you consume less gassy foods as you’ll be eating various food groups, which can help in chickpeas digestion. Meals high in carbs contain large complex sugar amounts that can cause digestive issues like bloating and gas.
Nevertheless, balancing meals with various food groups and nutrients that can help support your digestive tract. For instance, eating chickpeas with high-fibre veggies and fruits will help regulate digestion.
10. Avoid Sprouted Chickpeas
Sprouted chickpeas pose a risk of foodborne diseases. Sprouting involves germinating and soaking chickpeas to make them more digestible and enhance their nutrient content.
When chickpeas are sprouted, they become a breeding ground for bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella.
These bacteria can cause illnesses like fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, and nausea. While cooking can help kill the bacteria, it’s difficult to ascertain that all the bacteria have been eliminated.
Foods That Can Make You Gassy
This is the dense liquid left over after cooking chickpeas, and it’s used as an egg substitute in vegan recipes like mayonnaise and meringues. Consuming large aquafaba amounts contributes to bloating and gas.
Aquafaba has oligosaccharides that are difficult to digest and can lead to increased gas production.
b) Chickpea Pasta
Chickpea pasta is pasta made using chickpea flour rather than wheat. Chickpea pasta is a healthier and more nutritious alternative to conventional wheat pasta. The pasta has oligosaccharides that make digestion difficult.
This is a popular Middle Eastern dish made using ground fava beans and chickpeas and causes bloating and flatulence. Other ingredients in falafel, like onion and garlic, contribute to bloating and gas.
This Middle Eastern dip uses mashed chickpea, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil. Besides chickpeas, tahini and sesame seeds in this dish make digestion difficult.
This is an Indian flatbread made from chickpea flour or lentil with complex sugars that are difficult to digest.
Guide To Reducing Bloating From Chickpeas
Here are some tips that can help you reduce gas caused by eating chickpeas:
- Use Peppermint: Peppermint will relax the gut muscles, reducing the discomfort caused by excess gas.
- Exercise: Gentle exercises like walking or cycling help release gas since they stimulate the digestive tract. Don’t do vigorous exercises as they can cause you to swallow air that can result in bloating.
- Do a debloating pose: Several yoga poses can help you reduce gas, such as the child and cat and cow pose.