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Study Dispels Myth of Intolerable Flatulence from Eating Pulses

Pulses have been studied extensively for their numerous health benefits.

Pulses have been studied extensively for their numerous health benefits. They are low in fat and high in fiber, attributes that have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Chickpeas, lentils, and green peas also are an inexpensive source of protein. Yet the consumption of these important pulses traditionally has been low in Western societies, due in part to the idea that they cause intolerable levels of flatulence and gastrointestinal (GI) upset. Researchers studied whether moderate consumption of pulses in healthy individuals causes digestive disturbances.  A certain amount of gas is natural in helping the digestive system process pulses and help them move through the GI tract, and that regular consumption of pulses helps to build up a tolerance to flatulence.

Prior to this study, no other research had been done to assess whether gas and GI upset is really an issue when healthy individuals consume moderate amounts of pulses, so the authors conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study with 21 healthy males aged 19-40. They reported that flatulence and GI stress was not a significant factor in regular moderate pulse consumption, and that some difference was reported in the type of pulse eaten. In some cases flatulence was higher in different phases of digestion with different types of pulses. Overall, the findings show that regular moderate consumption of pulses does not increase flatulence to the point that you should avoid them—so soak those pulses, cook them thoroughly, and chew them well.

Veenstra JM, Duncan AM, Cryne CN, Deschambault BR, Boye JI, Benali M, et al. Effect of pulse consumption on perceived flatulence and gastrointestinal function in healthy males. Food Res Int 2010;43:553-559.


Summarized by the NDSU Extension Service.

Development of many of the materials on this website was made possible, in part, with funding from the Northern Pulse Growers Association.

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