Why Soak Beans and Lentils Before Cooking? - hair buddha

Why Soak Beans and Lentils Before Cooking?

Black Eyed Beans

Why Soak Beans and Lentils Before Cooking?

Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses. They are delicious to eat, but they have a bad reputation of being gaseous and hard-to-digest.

The root cause lies in their outer covering, which contain anti-nutrients (compounds that can interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients) such as lectins and phytic acids. These anti-nutrients are actually natural phytonutrients that seeds use as insecticides to protect themselves from the radiation of sun, insects, and invasions from fungi, viruses and bacteria. Also, this protective covering allows these foods to be stored for long periods without them turning rancid or going bad.

Why Soak Beans And Lentils ?

Soaking mimics the natural germination process and transforms the seed that is dormant and indigestible into the seed that is full of nutrients and full of digestibility. It works to neutralise these anti-nutrients, and encourage production of vital digestive enzymes. Soaking not only deactivate the harmful nutrients, it activate all the goodness of the seed and increases its nutritional value multifold. In addition, the process of soaking breaks down the difficult-to-digest carbohydrates and protein into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

How to Soak Beans and Lentils

Traditionally all the beans and lentils were pre-soaked –

  • Firstly, to reduce their cooking time, as few decades ago people didn’t have abundant supply of gas or electricity for cooking, unlike today.
  • Secondly, traditional people were very wise in selecting and preparing the food. I have always seen my mother soak the beans and lentils, and even rice prior to cooking. With no degree in nutrition, she knows that doing so helps improve their digestibility and nutrition.

Pre-soaking doesn’t require elaborate techniques or equipment. It’s really very simple. All that is necessary is a bit of planning.

Soak the beans or lentils in cold water. I use filtered water. Soaking time varies between 8 to 24 hours, depending on the size and hardness of the seed. Large beans such as garbanzo (chickpeas), kidney beans, dried peas need 12 hours or more, where as small seeds like black eye beans, adzuki beans, brown or green lentils take less than 8 hours.

After soaking most of the seeds will almost double in size. Throw the excess water that is left over and rinse with fresh water (the soak water contains the anti-nutrients and gas causing enzymes). Then cook, or leave them to sprout. You can use the left over water from soaking to water your plants, and no these anti-nutrients doesn’t affect the plants. In fact this water is very nourishing for them.

Since I am a vegetarian (actually eggitarian), these wonderful tasting, nutrient dense foods are part of my daily diet. They are an excellent source of protein, iron, folic acid, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and many more nourishing nutrients. So my kitchen counter is always occupied with multicoloured, beautiful looking  beans and lentils, either left to soak or sprout. A very useful appliance to cook them is the pressure cooker. And if you want to make beans and lentils part of your every day diet, then this little gadget pressure cooker is a must have, as it will save you cooking time, and also retain the nutrients.

Happy Soaking!!


Leave a Comment:

BeverlyAnn Chyatte says

I’m into traditional food preparation, fermenting, soaking etc. I’m also a member of Weston A Price and teach traditional food classes. I alway (even in hot summer), soak my beans on the countertop for up to 3 days. I do change the water at least daily. Soaking greatly reduces the antinutrients; however, it doesnt kill the Lectins. Only a pressure cooker can kill the Lectins. FYI, nothing kills wheat gluten nor oxalates.

    Minaz says

    That’s great to know. Thanks for sharing!

Jesse says

What is the timing and water requirement for properly cooking lentils in the instant pot. I cook a batch of 5 servings at once to meal prep my salads

Kenneth K. Lal says

I love reading your blogs! Do you know of any quick and simple recipes I can cook with Garbanzo beans, black beans or even lentils. I’m Indian but I don’t know much about what to cook. Thank you!

Sara says

Love your blog as always! And I’m happy you answer your readers so fondly 🙂 I’m thinking about reducing meat consumption (only eat wild game meat) so I think lentils and beans will be good! But is it a good idea to soak them in something acidic besides water? Maybe ACV? Some people also add salt.. what do you think? Cheers!

    Minaz says

    Thanks Sara 🙂
    No, just soak them in plain water. I am not aware of science behind soaking them in ACV or salt water. And I have not come across this in any ayurvedic or herbal literature.

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carol says

Thanks so much for sharing these tips. Im vegetarian too but i almost dont eat beans and pulses because it doesn’t matter how much i soak them, they still cause me too much bloating and gas.
Do you know any other secret to avoid this? Thank you!

    Minaz says

    Hello Carol, try mung beans, compared to all beans they are the easiest to digest. And takes less time to cook. Make sure you drain the water after soaking and also rinse them with fresh water. Let us know how it goes.

    Contrary Mary says

    I have these problems too. I started soaking my beans for an extended period of time (3 days) before cooking. Also adding baking soda to the soak water. I dump the water, rinse, and add fresh every 12 hours, adding more baking soda each time. Then I cook as usual. I don’t have nearly the gastric distress as I used to with shorter soaking times.

mona says

I have a regressing hair line I am 35 mother of two do these tips ll help me. I use ur honey and shikakai rise its superb. I am amazed with da results . Thanks

    Minaz says

    Thanks for the feedback Mona, appreciate it.
    Look forward to hearing more from you.

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