Time is our most valuable commodity. You can always make more money, but you can never make more time.
When it comes to food prep and healthy eating, learning how to “hack” time can be the defining factor of success. When I was first starting out on my plant-based journey, I quickly learned that the tips that had the best time-to-benefit ratio were ones that were going to stick. If something took too much time and energy, it simply wasn’t going to be practical for me or my clients.
Figuring out the balance between convenient and beneficial took some experimenting. I fully understand that most people don’t have hours to spend on food prep– So I get really excited when I find shortcuts that I know will give my readers back their time, but at the same time won’t sacrifice their health. Today, that shortcut is no longer taking the time to soak your beans. It turns out that the process may just be more of an inconvenience than a benefit.
Here are a few reasons people often soak their beans along with why it might not be necessary:
The number one reason it’s often recommended to soak your beans has to do with Phytic Acid. This is one of the chemicals often found on different types of seeds to help them stay intact for future seeding of the plant. One of the main concerns is that Phytic acid may inhibit mineral absorption. However, verdict on this doesn’t seem to be supported by studies. On the contrary, studies have begun to show health benefits of phytic acid such as heavy metal detox, lowering diabetes risk, and combatting cancer.
The gas caused by beans has to do with a molecule called Raffinose. This is a carbohydrate often found in beans that, at first introduction, can cause gas. This may be because your gut flora isn’t used to raffinose. Once it’s been introduced, gas should slowly ease over time as your gut flora adjusts. Raffinose is similar to a prebiotic in that it feeds and benefits our gut bacteria.
Improve Taste and Cooking
To me, it never made a huge difference as far as taste and texture goes to soak beans overnight. I will admit, there have been many times I just simply didn’t plan ahead and ended up not having time to soak. In fact, many people prefer the taste and texture of unsoaked beans to those that have been soaked. I’ve found that it really doesn’t take much more time to cook unsoaked vs soaked beans, especially if I start out with hot water to begin with.
So what’s the verdict?
Experiment and try out a couple different methods and see if you feel/taste a difference. Choose what works for you! I have friends who still swear by soaking and that’s perfectly fine! If you don’t notice a difference, feel free to nix soaking all together and save some time. Another tactic is a quick soak method. Simply put beans in a pot and fill with water until beans are covered by an inch. Bring to a boil but immediately turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour. Cook as you normally would. Remember, you are your own best health expert!