Beans are types of plants grown for their edible seeds that grow in pods and can be dried out and stored for long periods of time.
Beans are extremely versatile and can be either eaten fresh, canned, or cooked by dry heat methods such as roasting or boiling. But are they acidic or alkaline, and can they be good for acid reflux, GERD, and heartburn?
The acidity of Different Types of Beans
The acidity in beans largely depends on the types of food they contain and how these meals are prepared.
1) French beans
French beans contain high levels of oxalic, citric, and acetic acids, which give their sour taste. This acidity is at pH 3.8-4.6, which makes them very acidic in comparison to other food types due to the higher level of acid present in these meals.
2) Kidney beans
Kidney beans do not contain significant levels of oxalic acid, citric or acetic acids which is why they are very mild in sourness.
They have a pH level of 5.0-5.1, which makes them slightly acidic as well as having a high sugar content, hence the brown color.
3) Black beans
Black beans have an acidity level similar to that of kidney beans with a pH range of 5.0-5.1 and contain higher levels of citric and acetic acids.
The pH levels of chickpeas are 5.0-5.5, which makes them very acidic because they contain high amounts of citric and acetic acids like black beans.
Lentils have low acidity with a pH level ranging from 6.4-6.9, which means when you combine them with other foods, it does not significantly affect the overall acidity of a meal.
How Does Cooking Affect Acidity in Beans?
Cooking beans is commonly done in order to make them more palatable. Using cooking methods like boiling, baking, frying, or roasting can affect the acidity level of beans by making them more acidic.
Cooking involves the breakdown of starch, which increases the level of sugar in beans. For example, when you boil kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas, they become sweeter.
This is because water breaks down the complex sugars, which makes them easier to digest. A positive side effect of cooking is that it enhances the flavor by removing some of the acids that cause a bitter taste after cooking.
How Can I Reduce the Acidity of Beans?
Soaking them in water
Soaking your beans in water for several hours before cooking reduces the acidity level because most of the offending acids are soluble in water. This process is also known as leaching where you dissolve the acid out of food.
Another way to reduce acidity in legumes is by sprouting them. Sprouts are germinated seeds that are rich in nutrients and can be grown at home. Sprouting reduces the level of acidity as most sugars are already used up to grow new plant cells.
Cooking them Together With Alkaline Foods
Cooking beans together with alkaline foods like potatoes or sweet potatoes will reduce the acidity in the meal. This is because alkaline foods are rich in magnesium which reduces the acidic effect of foods by neutralizing their free hydrogen ions.
Although beans are acidic, they have many health benefits that make them worth eating. Eating just one serving of beans per day can help you get your daily dose of B vitamins and antioxidants while also promoting heart health.
If you’re not sold on the idea of adding legumes to your diet yet, know that cooking methods like soaking and sprouting can make beans more palatable and easier to digest.
Type of Beans
Beans, whether they come from a vegetable garden or an animal, can be classified as:
- Dried Beans – Seeds that dry naturally and are stored for long periods of time, eg. kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans.
- Fresh Beans – These are harvested ripe and consumed soon after. They are more expensive due to the short shelf life, eg. French beans green beans.
Beans can be classified as either being sugars or starch-containing types of foodstuff, depending on their chemical composition. The sugar-containing types of edible seeds are known as legumes.
Health Benefits of Beans
Beans have a variety of health benefits.
Beans are a good source of protein. Beans contain different amino acids that help the body maintain muscle mass.
There are two types of fiber in beans, soluble and insoluble fiber. Both provide general health benefits like weight loss, lower LDL cholesterol levels, improved bowel movements, and help keep blood sugar under control.
Beans are a good source of folate, which is vital for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies. These beans also help with heart health by lowering homocysteine levels that cause plaque build-up in blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis.
4) B Vitamins
Beans are a good source of B Vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-6, which help to maintain healthy skin and hair. They also promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and homocysteine levels, as stated above.
Beans contain antioxidants that help protect the cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
6) Cancer Prevention
The isoflavones in soybeans inhibit cancer cell growth and prevent tumor formation in the colon, breast, bladder, pancreas, etc.