Q. My family has noticed that we seem to digest beans better when they have been previously sprouted. Is this our imagination or is there a reasonable scientific explanation to this?
A. Actually, there is a plausible explanation why sprouting beans might make them more digestible. Beans contain lots of complex carbohydrates—sugar molecules that are bound together into larger molecules. During digestion, enzymes “snip” the bonds holding the sugars together so that they can be absorbed. But often this process is not completed by the time the food reaches the large intestine. When these un- or partially digested carbohydrates reach the large intestine, they can cause gas.
Here’s the reason that sprouting might make beans less problematic. Seeds store energy in the form of starch. When a seed is sprouted, some of those starches are converted into sugars to feed the growth of the budding plant. When you sprout legumes, some of those complex carbs are converted into simpler sugars and that could reduce the amount of complex carbohydrates reaching the large intestine.
Dried beans on white from Shutterstock