Fermenting beans and then cooking them not only reduces the majority of the soluble fibre that leads to flatulence, but also enhances their nutritional quality. Now we know which bacteria are important for the fermentation, reveal findings published online today in the SCI’s Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Beans are already an important source of nutrients, and many people would eat more of them if it wasn’t for the flatulence. In many situations treating food to remove one problem often reduces its nutritional value, but a team of researchers at Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela, have shown how flatulence can be reduced, while the nutritional value is enhanced.
Flatulence is caused by bacteria that live in the large intestine breaking down parts of the food that have not been digested higher in the gut, and releasing gas. Led by Marisela Granito, the researchers had previous shown that fermenting the beans could destroy many of these compounds. Now this team of researchers at has identified the bacteria that perform this fermentation.
Publishing their work in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, they show firstly that Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum are the key bacteria. These can be encouraged to grow either by deliberately adding it to a batch, or by inoculating with liquor from a previous batch.
Secondly, they discovered that once these fermented beans are cooked, the amounts of nutrients in the bean that could be digested and absorbed had increased significantly.
“Our results show that L. casei could be used as a functional starter culture in the food industry,” says Granito.
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