If you start to experience bloating or gas after eating chickpeas, or products made from them like hummus, you’re not alone. Wind, flatulance, farting – or whatever else you want to call it can be one of the common side effects of eating chickpeas. But why do chickpeas cause gas and how can you reduce the effects and still enjoy these tasty little health nuggets?
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Why Do Chickpeas Cause Gas?
There’s two main reasons why chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) cause gas. They are high in fibre and they contain certain sugars that can ferment in the digestive system and produce gas.
The Fibre Story
Chickpeas are legumes – and all legumes are high in fibre.
This is generally a good thing, but fibre is also the main food for the gut bacteria in your digestive system and when the fibre from chickpeas (a type called raffinose) enters the large intestine, the bacteria feed upon it – and, as they do so, gas is created – up to 12 litres of it a day!.
In most people, this gas is naturally absorbed back into the body or passes out (which is why chickpeas make you fart), but in people with a more sensitive digestive system or irritable bowel syndrome, the gas can press on pain receptors in the large intestine which can cause discomfort, bloating and even problems like stomach cramps.
The FODMAP Story
The second reason why chickpeas might create more gas than other foods you eat is that chickpeas fall into a group of foods containing types of sugars known as FODMAPs
FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which is a snappy little term that translates in plain english, to sugars that can ferment.
And when things ferment in the digestive tract, they produce gas – and, again, in people who are sensitive to this intestinal gas, problems like stomach cramps, bloating, abdominal pain – and other IBS-like symptoms can occur.
Chickpeas contain sugars in the O family of FODMAPs – oligosaccarides
Do Chickpeas Contain Gluten?
Eating foods containing gluten can be a common cause of digestive upset, so you might be wondering if it plays a role in why chickpeas might make you gassy, but it doesn’t.
Chickpeas don’t contain gluten.
The Saponin Story
We talk about this more in our piece on why quinoa can cause gas – but, saponins are ingredients in plants that make them taste horrible to insects – and, chickpeas contain them.
However, if you’re sensitive too them, saponins can also lead to gas and stomach pain.
Sounds like the easiest way to stop chickpeas making you gassy is to cut them out of your diet, right? Well no…
None of this means that you need to give up chickpeas completely – it’s completely possibly to eat chickpeas and not end up with excess air in your system.
And, that’s a good thing because, chickpeas come with a lot of health benefits.
Why You Shouldn’t Just Avoid Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a low in fat and high in soluble fibre – and we should be incorporating more higher fibre foods in our diet to help promote a healthy digestive system.
Fibre also plays a role in combating cholesterol so it’s also essential for heart health.
Chickpeas are a plant-based food and for the health of our gut bacteria we should be incorporating at least 30 different plant-based foods into our diet each week.
Chickpeas are also a source of protein which means they can help make meals more filling.
And lastly, according to this study, people who eat chickpeas regularly have higher intakes of vitamin A, C, E and folate. And of magnesium, iron and potassium.
How to Make Chickpeas Less Gassy
As you can see therefore, avoiding chick peas just because they are creating gas might not be the best option for your health. Instead, it’s better to work on ways to reduce how much gas is being created.
And you can do this by tweaking the types of chickpeas you eat or the amount of them you consume. So…
Build Up Slowly
The process of digesting fibre leads to the production of gas basically because our body has difficulty digesting it.
It therefore enters the large intestine pretty much intact, which is good news for the gut bacteria, but not necessarily good news for those around you!
Increase fibre too quickly in the diet, or, eat a large amount all at once, and the gut bacteria get a bit like kids at a birthday party – over excited by the all the food in front of them; and as they gorge, they start producing gas at a rate of knots.
Slowly increasing the fibre intake of your diet can help reduce the risk of this.
Chew More and Slower
Most of us don’t chew our food that well, but chewing your food well helps aid digestion as it breaks the food into more manageable size pieces.
Also, eat and chew slowly. Eating too fast can cause you to swallow air which also causes bloating.
Use Canned Chickpeas
Canned chickpeas are stored in water, and a lot of the sugars that mean chickpeas cause bloating, leach into that water – this means that canned chickpeas can be more readily tolerated than fresh ones.
Rinse Them Well
To help boost this, the more of that liquid you can remove from canned chickpeas, the more sugars you remove and the less likely they are to cause gas.
Rinsing canned chickpeas is very important if you think saponins might be the trigger of your bloating – it’s them that give the liquid in canned chickpeas the soapy feel that makes aquafaba.
Watch Your Portion
Chickpeas are what’s known as a medium FODMAP food – what this means is that even people sensitive to them might be able to eat them in smaller quantities without experiencing problems.
The world authority on FODMAP dieting, are the team at Australia’s Monash University and they come up with suggested portion sizes for FODMAP containing foods that most people can tolerate.
And for canned chickpeas this is 42g. So, make that your portion size going forward.
Balance Your Meals
Do be aware though, that if you also eat lots of other foods with oligosaccarides in them at the same meal this might cause bloating.
For this reason, if you do think you react to FODMAPS in foods, it’s a good idea to understand more about which foods container higher amounts of FODMAPs and the team at Monash have written a great book that can help.
Have a look at The Complete Low Fodmap Diet by Sue Shepherd and Peter Gibson.
If you prefer to keep things on your smartphone, you can also download the Monash Fodmap app from the app store which helps walk you through the process of eating the low-FODMAP way.
Avoid Sprouted Chickpeas
These are classed as a high FODMAP food and are therefore more likely to cause problems, particularly in those with irritable bowel syndrome, than canned chickpeas. You might find these in sprout mixes so read labels carefully.
Public Service Announcement! Now most of the time bloating and gas pass quickly, but we do have to just mention that if you’re getting a lot of discomfort with your bloating, if you have any other symptoms like loss of appetite or weight loss and if your bloating doesn’t come and go, it’s best to just go and see your GP to check there’s not a problem like IBS or something else going on.
Does Hummus Make You Gassy?
Then that could be down to the chickpeas too! Chickpeas appear in a lot more foods than you might think – and you might be eating chickpeas even when perhaps you don’t realise it. Here’s what else to consider might be triggering your problems …
Aquafaba is made from the liquid in which chickpeas are stored and it’s used as a replacement for egg white in vegan dishes and some cocktails.
However, as you’ve seen above – rinsing away that liquid is recommended for anyone who farts after eating chickpeas – and, as such aquafaba may cause gas.
If you’re picking gluten-free pasta in a restaurant, it could be made from chickpea flour.
This is usually made with chickpeas and so could also trigger some digestive issues.
Hummus contains blended chickpeas – it’s classed as a low FODMAP food in a small portion, but if you are sensitive to the FODMAPs in chickpeas it could still lead to gas if you over eat it.
Again, the Monash team suggest that eating just 42g of hummus should be fine for most people.
These can be made from chickpea flour (which is also known as gram flour), and while the FODMAP potential of this specifically hasnt yet been measured, if you’re noticing bloating after eating poppodums, the chickpeas could be the cause.
How to Reduce Bloating From Chickpeas
The gas caused by chickpeas can be reduced the same way as gas produced from other healthy foods – you need to encourage your body to release it and/or relax the gut to reduce risk of cramps or pain. And there’s a few ways to do it…
Try Some Peppermint
Try drinking peppermint tea or take some peppermint oil capsules (like these ones). This relaxes the muscles of the gut which can help reduce more uncomfortable symptoms of excess gas.
For more detailed advice on how to use peppermint oil, and when you shouldn’t, have a look at this advice on peppermint oil from the UK NHS.
Do Some Gentle Exercise
Gentle exercise like cycling or walking can help release gas as it stimulates the digestive system.
In this study, walking after meals helped reduce the incidence of bloating and flatulance in regular sufferers.
Just be wary of doing anything too vigorous as that can lead to you swallowing air causing bloating (see more about why going to the gym might create gas here).
Done regularly exercise also helps reduce risk of bloating because it can help lower risk of constipation.
Try a Debloat Pose
A few different yoga poses can help release excess gas.
Good yoga poses for reducing gas include child pose – especially if you lift your hips a little bit higher and cat-cow pose – where you’re on all fours and rounding, then depressing your upper back.
Those three ideas should help you out, but if you’re looking for alternative ways to reduce gas and bloating, we’ve got 11 suggestions in our post on how to beat the bloat.
So, there you have it some of the reasons why chickpeas cause bloating – and how to release it.
If they were helpful, you might want to look at our ‘why does’ section which also looks into some of the other connections between foods and how your body behaves.
Or, if you regularly bloat after eating, you might want to look at our post on some of the most common reasons why this can happen here.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.