Legumes like lentils and beans are among the most common foods that cause bloating and gas. Many people experience digestive discomfort after consuming lentils because they are rich in fiber.
Consuming too much fiber can lead to symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation and other digestive issues. Since fiber-rich foods like lentils cause gas, increase your consumption of them slowly. Soak the lentils for several hours before cooking them. If needed, take an over-the-counter digestive aid to prevent uncomfortable symptoms like gas.
Lentil Nutrition and Benefits
Aside from their fiber content, lentils are known for being high in plant-based protein. This is why they are considered one of the best post-workout foods, especially for vegetarians and vegans who do not consume animal protein.
There are several types of lentils: red lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, yellow lentils and black lentils. They all share similar nutrition facts, though red and brown lentils are the most common.
According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked lentils contains the following nutrients:
- 226 calories
- 17.9 grams of protein
- 0.8 grams of fat
- 38.7 grams of carbohydrates
- 15.6 grams of fiber
Lentils are also rich in minerals, including iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Per the USDA Dietary Guidelines, lentils can count toward your daily requirements for vegetable or protein servings. The Dietary Guidelines also recommend shifting toward more variety in protein choices including more seafood as well as legumes or nuts and seeds instead of meat or poultry. Lentils are considered a legume and may help increase your variety of protein.
While lentils can help you reach your nutrition targets, they can also help reduce the risk of disease. According to a November 2017 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, lentils have polyphenic-rich content linked to reduced incidence of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
Read more: How Much Protein Is in Lentils?
Lentils and Gas
The correlation between lentils and gas is a common concern for many Americans, not only people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There are a few reasons why lentils cause gas.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the fiber-rich content in lentils is the primary cause of flatulence. Many people experience a sharp increase in gas when they increase their fiber intake. Cleveland Clinic predicts that eventually your body will adjust to the extra fiber and lentils will not cause as much gas. One tip to prevent lentils from causing gas is to soak them overnight.
The founders of the low-FODMAP diet suspect that the high-FODMAP content in lentils may be the root cause of their gas-causing effects. Flatulence is a common side effect of irritable bowel syndrome. According to an April 2016 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a low-FODMAP diet can improve IBS symptoms because it restricts foods that cause bloating and gas. It is recommended that patients with IBS reduce their consumption of lentils if they cause gas.
A rare reason for lentils to cause gas can also be intolerance or allergies. Though uncommon, sensitivity to legumes can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms like gas. The Cleveland Clinic reports that people with soy allergy may also react poorly to other legumes like lentils. Despite being a natural source of many nutrients, a negative reaction to lentils should deter you from consuming them.
Read more: Health Consequences of Too Many Lentils
Prevent Gas From Lentils
The relationship between lentils and gas is a tricky one. Lentils are rich in many beneficial nutrients. They are also a recommended protein source for vegans and vegetarians. However, the high-fiber and high-FODMAP contents of lentils make them a triggering food for many. Since lentils are packed with nutrients, you may want to continue consuming them without the negative side effects.
To prevent gas from lentils, try avoiding canned lentils that are high in sodium. The salty brine in canned legumes is often the culprit of gas complaints. Instead, make your own lentils at home. You can buy dried lentils and soak them in water overnight prior to cooking. This is believed to make lentils easier to digest and therefore less likely to cause gas. Sprouted lentils may also be easier to digest.
Despite being one of the top foods that cause bloating and gas, lentils are a tasty source of vital nutrients. Rather than eliminating them from your diet, introduce them slowly and take digestive aids as needed.
Is This an Emergency?
- USDA: “Lentils, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, With Salt”
- USDA: “Appendix 3. USDA Food Patterns: Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern”
- USDA: “A Closer Look at Current Intakes and Recommended Shifts”
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: “Polyphenol-Rich Lentils and Their Health Promoting Effects”
- Cleveland Clinic: “What You Should Know About Beans and the (Embarrassing) Gas They Cause”
- European Journal of Nutrition: “Does a Diet Low in Fodmaps Reduce Symptoms Associated With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders? A Comprehensive Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Soy Allergy”