I was out at dinner with family and friends last night when the conversation shifted to beans. Someone at the table undercooked black beans ate them and became very ill. These were the dried kind you find in bags at the grocery store. I had never heard of such a thing.

Who knew eating undercooked beans could make you violently ill or worse, kill you? I sure didn't. I've heard of people soaking beans before they boil them, but I thought that was simply a bean cooking technique.

In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 20% of all food poisoning cases annually are due to raw or undercooked beans. And at least 3000 people a year die due to foodborne illnesses, many from eating raw or undercooked beans.

Beans contain lectin. Lectins are found in many foods we consume. Most are not harmful. However, the Lectins found in beans are toxic. Beans have to be cooked thoroughly to get the lectins out, especially red kidney beans. Raw lima beans are equally as bad as they contain cyanide.

WildOats.com suggests doing the following before consuming beans.

  • Soak all beans overnight.
  • Drain the beans before cooking.
  • Change the water.
  • Cook beans according to package directions.
  • Make sure all beans are brought to the boiling point for the package specified amount of time.
  • Never eat raw beans of any kind.

If you've ever been sick after eating beans, it probably wasn't a bug, you probably had food poisoning and just didn't know it. Beans are toxic if not cooked properly. They don't just make you gassy, they could kill you. But you won't find either of those warnings on labels.

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