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How to Eat Raw Kidney Beans

Updated March 06, 2019

Learning about the dangers of eating raw kidney beans can give you a good idea of how to eat them raw--or not. Red kidney beans are a common legume usually included in meals such as chilli con carne, and most people have eaten them so often that they have trouble with the idea that kidney beans can be dangerous in uncooked form. Learning the facts about eating raw kidney beans can help to dispel any myths and keep you safe when you eat kidney beans.

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  1. Soak any dry red kidney beans in water for at least five hours. It is better to leave them soaking for 18 hours, if possible. Dried red kidney beans contain high concentrations of haemagglutin, which when consumed can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains. Soaking the beans in water for 18 hours can reduce the amount of these harmful chemicals by between 22 to 66 per cent.

  2. Decide whether you really want to risk haemagglutin poisoning. Generally, symptoms have been known to occur from eating as few as five raw kidney beans, and they start between one and three hours after eating the beans. The symptoms generally disappear three to four hours after onset. Whilst you can take the risk if you wish, it is strongly advised that you do not. Getting to eat a few raw, relatively tasteless beans would not generally seem to be worth vomiting and diarrhoea.

  3. Eat no more than five kidney beans if you are intent on eating them raw. The soaking process should have removed some of the haemagglutin, so eating four or five beans is unlikely to cause problems. If your kidney beans have come out of a can, you can eat as many as you like. Canned kidney beans have already undergone a thorough heating process as a result of their raw toxicity.

  4. Boil the kidney beans for at least ten minutes if you want to be safe. Cooking the kidney beans properly removes the risk of haemagglutin poisoning. Even if cooked slowly, in a casserole, for example, the beans could still be toxic, and Food Reference claims that heating the beans to 80 degrees Celsius can increase the toxicity fivefold. As a result, even if you intend to slow cook the beans, it may be a good idea to boil them thoroughly before transferring them to the cooking dish or pot. Alternatively, buy canned kidney beans, and then you can heat them however you like, or not at all if you wish.

  5. Warning

    Raw red kidney beans are toxic, and should always be cooked properly to avoid side-effects.

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.

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