Beans are a delicious pantry staple that are always there in a pinch when you want to make a quick but filling meal. But while beans may seem completely harmless, experts warn that eating just a couple can have serious consequences if they haven’t been prepared properly. One way to find out is to check the texture. Read on to find out how to tell if you shouldn’t be eating your beans.
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While many people buy canned precooked beans, others buy dried beans for preparation. Switching to dry beans is cheaper, produces less waste, and can help you moderate your sodium intake. However, experts warn that preparing your own beans can be dangerous if not done correctly.
“Raw beans … contain lectins, which are naturally present in plants, but the lectins in raw beans are toxic” Family doctor Kristina hendija, MD, explains. “Only by cooking, like boiling, can lectins be destroyed and beans can be safely eaten.” According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Bad Bug Book, eating “as little as four or five raw beans can trigger symptoms. “
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If you don’t soak and cook your beans long enough, you could get sick. Soaking your beans before cooking is an essential part of the process to make sure you are removing lectins, but soaking by itself is not enough, you should also cook them thoroughly. What counts as thorough? “Cooked beans should be tender and tender,” says Hendija. If your beans are still hard after cooking them, don’t eat them and let them simmer longer.
Doctor and medical researcher Daniel Boyer, MD, has a special tip to help you know when your beans are safe to eat. “To find out if your beans are done, blow out a spoonful,” he says. “If their skins come off, it’s almost done.”
To be safe, you should at a minimum follow the recommendations of the FDA when preparing your beans. According to the “Bad Bug Book,” UK-based studies suggest beans should be soaked in water for at least five hours. At this point, you should replace the contaminated water with fresh water and boil the beans for at least 30 minutes. The FDA warns you to never use a slow cooker for beans because the machine does not heat up enough to destroy the lectins.
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According to the FDA, many beans can be toxic if eaten raw or undercooked, including black beans, Great Northern beans, kidney beans and white beans. Boyer and Hendija both say that kidney beans are the riskiest to consume if they are not soaked and cooked properly, as they contain the highest concentration of lectins.
The FDA’s “Bad Bug Book” says that Toxic bean disease “usually begins with extreme nausea and vomiting within one to three hours of ingestion of the product, with diarrhea developing later in that time.” According to the agency, vomiting can become severe and be accompanied by abdominal pain. And although you are likely to recover within three to four hours of the onset of the disease, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University notes that the disease can sometimes lead to hospitalization.
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