Kombu: The Sea Vegetable You Need Now

Cooking your own beans takes some effort. No lie. Grabbing a can opener is much faster than soaking dried legumes overnight and spending a couple of hours around the stove. Especially when you are prone to not measuring the correct amount of water and having half the batch burn on the bottom.

United States of Whatever. I still cook them and I still think they taste superior to their canned counterpart. I’ve been messing around with a new method that involves a weed from the sea.

Kombu is a sea vegetable that does a miraculous thing when added to a pot of boiling beans.

Beans contain raffinose sugars that we straight up can’t digest. Raffinose is an oligosaccharide that contains galactose, glucose, and fructose. That is a lot for our body to break down. Unfortunately, we humans don’t have the enzyme alpha-galactosidase in our digestive tract to make this happen. This is where kombu comes to the rescue. It has the enzymes that our digestive system lacks. The glutamic acid in the kombu helps to soften the proteins in the beans thus reducing the worry of the raffinose sugars.

Confused? Let’s break it down.


Beans contain a sugar molecule that our body can’t digest. When this sugar isn’t properly digested, it can ferment in the digestive tract, which causes gas and bloating. Kombu contains the enzyme that begins breaking down that sugar. If you want to reduce the gas factor: add a strip. 

You can buy dried kombu at health food stores and Asian markets. If you store kombu in a dry place this seaweed can last for a long time. Add a four inch strip to your cooking pot and watch that baby expand. You can leave it in and eat it, or remove it as soon as you are done cooking, beware it will disintegrate after a couple of hours.  So if you don’t want little bits of seaweed all throughout your beans make sure to remove it after your beans are cooked.

[bctt tweet=”Eat beans. Fart less. This magical ingredient will make that happen.”]

Image Credits: Alexandra Thomas

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