I have always drained and tossed the water from canned beans. My understanding has been that the water that canned beans are soaked and cooked in contains raffinose, the gas-causing sugars that humans can't digest. This University of Michigan page, referred to in the answer to an earlier question, says:

Rinse beans thoroughly and never cook beans in the water they've soaked in. It's loaded with the gas-causing raffinose sugars.

And also advises:

Drain and rinse canned beans. That will get rid of some of the gas-causing raffinose sugars (and almost half of the unwanted sodium).

Now that aquafaba is all the rage, though, I'm wondering whether my understanding is wrong. I understand that the bean water would taste mildly sweet and foam up so readily because of the raffinose. But it seems to me that aquafaba would lead to severe bloating and intestinal distress, as it relies for its properties wholly on the gassy and sugary nature of the bean water.

Am I mistaken in my understanding of the need to toss the water that one soaks or cooks beans in? Or is it just that fans consider the bloating and gas a price well paid for the delights of aquafaba?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Verbose, what makes a question "about health" is the knowledge required to answer it. If you ask "is it digestible", then the person answering it would have to know which compounds are digestible, and that would be physiology related knowledge. If you ask "does X contain Y", this is indeed an on-topic question, no matter if you are asking because you think that Y is tasty, or undigestible, or cures acne. The source in your text did list a compound to look for, so I changed the title accordingly. $\endgroup$ – rumtscho Jan 2 '17 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ @rumtscho This question concerned the digestibility of aquafaba. Raffinose is not the only undigestible sugar. The person answering it would have to know what compounds are digestible, but that is not prohibitive. Most questions require an answerer to know the answer. I disagree with the title change and have reverted, I believe it changes the nature of the post too much and was not the author's intent. Note also that this question is specifically not "about health". But if you choose to revert again I will not fight it. Worst case this may be a question more appropriate for the bio site. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Jan 2 '17 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ (I.e. edit doesn't seem right, migration would seem more appropriate) $\endgroup$ – Jason C Jan 2 '17 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonC " The person answering it would have to know what compounds are digestible, but that is not prohibitive" - that is prohibitive, because this is exactly what takes the question into physiology, and makes it out of scope here. I know that the edited question is not equivalent to the original one, but I made the edit because the original one was off-topic. Your suggestion to migrate also seems like a good one, let's try it and see what happens. $\endgroup$ – rumtscho Jan 2 '17 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this is a biology question rather than a culinary question; I'm not interested in the chemical structures of the sugars themselves, nor in the mechanics of digestion. The question seems a natural follow up to the linked question about using the water from canned beans. If that water is inadvisable to use for cooking because of its indigestible and high sodium nature, then that naturally raises a question about its use as aquafaba. And that is a culinary question, not a scientific one. The migration is severely inconvenient $\endgroup$ – verbose Jan 2 '17 at 22:56

Much of it is not readily digestible. According to this chemical analysis:

Finally the results presented here also indicate that the amount of digestible carbohydrates in aquafaba is minimal. For families with GLUT1 deficiency, where a diet with minimal amounts of glucose and carbohydrates digestible to glucose is required, aquafaba can represent an additional foaming or emulsifying ingredient, as an alternative to eggs.

It also contains proteins, presumably digestible. The carb and protein content is significant, according to the study, which implies a fairly decent proportion of undigestable carbs.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! The linked site is useful. But I'm missing something; where does it say "the carb and protein content is relatively low"? The portion quoted in the answer says that only the digestible carb content is low. The article explicitly states that the amount of proteins and the total carb content are somewhat high: "The results showed that aquafaba primarly contains both proteins and carbohydrates in considerable amounts". The fact that aquafaba has a high proportion of carbs but few digestible ones does suggest to me that aquafaba would cause gastric distress. $\endgroup$ – verbose Jan 2 '17 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @verbose No you are right. I was passing time answering questions during a stressful wait in the animal hospital last night and wasn't all there. I misinterpreted "detectable" as "barely detectable". I can't say for certain just from that article exactly what fraction is undigestable carbs but it suggests a significant portion. Also cursory research does suggest public opinion that blaming farts on the family dog is not a big price to pay for the many wondrous and magnificent delectations of aquafaba, or at least, nobody seems to complain about it or contest it. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Jan 2 '17 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, you could just drink it for a few days and see what comes out. For science. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Jan 2 '17 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, for science and keep a laptop by your bedside, and write copiously as quantities so of undegestable carbohydrates entering your large intestines and bowls are fermented by bacteria. We wish you luck and god speed. And remember, you do this so that others will never need to experience the same tragic horror. For Science. $\endgroup$ – JayCkat Jan 3 '17 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonC I'm sorry to report that the "Honey, we need to get a family dog so I can try out aquafaba. For science" ploy didn't work. I'm still pet-less. $\endgroup$ – verbose Jan 5 '17 at 9:44

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