14 Vegetables That Cause Gas & Less Gassy Alternatives
Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and provide many nutritional benefits. Unfortunately eating too much of certain vegetables can also cause gas and other digestive issues like belly bloat, intestinal cramps and even diarrhea.
If you are having problems with excessive flatulence that you think might be caused by vegetables, this page lists the 14 most likely culprits and some simple suggestions to help avoid gas and bloating when you eat them.
Also ahead is a helpful list of low gas vegetables that you can enjoy with your meals without risking feeling bloated, gassy or having bad smelling flatulence the next day.
The 14 Worst Vegetables for Bloating and Gas
Hardly surprising, given their reputation, in the number 1 spot for vegetables that cause gas are beans. Sometimes this happens later the same day, but more often you pay the price for eating them the next day.
Beans have quite a bit of soluble fiber, which, while generally thought of as beneficial, can cause gastrointestinal problems for some people. There’s a bigger issue when you eat beans though — raffinose.
Beans of all kinds – though particularly soybeans, navy beans, black beans, lima beans and pinto beans – are exceptionally high in certain indigestible carbohydrates known as oligosaccharides. Raffinose is the most prevalent and worst of these.
Raffinose cannot be broken down in the small intestine as humans lack the alpha-galactosidase enzyme required to break it down. It passes through your GI tract completely undigested. Once it reaches the large intestine though, the bacteria there thrive on it and ferment raffinose into large volumes of hydrogen, methane and other gases.
You can reduce the amount of raffinose in dried beans by soaking them overnight in water with a tablespoon of edible vinegar. Drain them before you cook them in freshwater. Adding some naturally anti-gas fennel seeds to any recipe with beans can also help.
More effectively, a capsule of this vegetarian Bean-zyme, taken at the same time as a high raffinose foods, like beans, peas and some of the other gassy vegetables ahead, will provide the digestive enzymes needed to break down oligosaccharides before they can cause bloating and gas.
2. Peas, Lentils and Legumes
Like beans, peas contain very high levels of both indigestible oligosaccharides and soluble fiber, both of which are known to cause bloating and flatulence.
Chickpeas, commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern recipes like hummus, can be particularly bad for excessive gas and are well worth avoiding if you have an important meeting the next day.
Black-eyed peas and lentils are also very gassy legumes and will usually produce quite a bit of windiness if used as a main ingredient in a meal. Peanuts are another legume that can cause gas for some people, though usually only in much larger amounts than chickpeas or lentils.
What is interesting with peas, beans and other legumes is that eaten on their own they often cause large volumes of intestinal gas, but not generally a particularly offensive smell.
If you are having problems with lots of farting but it is not especially smelly, and you’ve been eating beans or peas, then they are almost certainly the culprit. On the other hand, if offensive flatulence odor is the problem rather than the volume of gas, it’s more likely to be one of the high sulfur veggies ahead.
Broccoli is an extremely healthy vegetable recently identified to be full of anti-cancer compounds and well worth eating. Like most cruciferous vegetables though, broccoli is also high in sulfur compounds and this is where stomach pain and gas problems with this veggie usually start.
A diet rich in sulfur can lead to flatulence with a higher percentage of hydrogen sulfide — the classic rotten egg gas smell that’s so effective at turning heads and clearing rooms.
Hydrogen sulfide is so potent that even a very small amount can result in foul smelling farts. Generally the poorer your digestion the more chance of hydrogen sulfide building up in the colon.
Eating slowly and chewing broccoli thoroughly can help break it down it before reaches the lower intestine where gas producing bacteria reside.
Some research has also shown that taking concentrated probiotics, like this new strain that’s also very effective against pathogenic intestinal yeast, can help reduce the level of hydrogen sulfide in your body by improving the intestinal environment.
Broccoli also contains a fair amount of fiber and raffinose, which no doubt contribute to its reputation for bad gas. That said, small amounts of broccoli shouldn’t be a problem for a healthy digestive system.
Most people find that if they start off with a smaller portion and slowly increase the amount of broccoli they eat in the coming weeks they can enjoy its health benefits without excess gas.
Cabbage is another high sulfur food like broccoli that can cause some very bad smelling gas, particularly when eaten in large amounts.
Along with hydrogen sulfide, another sulfur-based compound observed to increase within your body when you eat foods like cabbage is methyl mercaptan. It has a distinctive rotten cabbage odor and just the smallest concentration in flatulence can be easily smelt.
While a very nutritious vegetable, cabbage is actually even more healthy when fermented as sauerkraut. In this form it is predigested by beneficial bacteria and there is much less chance of gas problems eating sauerkraut rather than regular cabbage.
Peppermint tea can also greatly reduce intestinal gas and also freshens the breath and even body odor after eating smelly vegetables like cabbage. Try sipping on a cup just before or even during your meal for less gas.
5. Brussels Sprouts
Closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts are quite notorious for causing gas. They contain both lots of raffinose and a high sulfur content, however the way in which we eat this particular vegetable may also be partially to blame.
Many people only eat Brussels sprouts on big occasions, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, when they are already eating large amounts of food. This increases the chance of them not being digested properly and ending up in the lower intestine for bacterial fermentation.
Like cabbage and broccoli, smaller amounts of Brussels sprouts are very good for you and shouldn’t cause problems for a well functioning digestive system. Large helpings of Brussels sprouts at a meal though are quite likely to make you gassy.
Try starting off with just a couple of them mixed with other low gas vegetables, like zucchini, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes and leafy greens such as spinach, parsley and Swiss chard to avoid bloating with sprouts and other high raffinose foods.
While not usually quite as bad for gas, cauliflower is still a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi or cabbage and has reasonably high levels of both sulfur compounds and oligosaccharides.
If you experience belly bloating and flatulence problems the next day after a meal with a lot of cauliflower, then it is the likely culprit.
Often you can build up your digestive tolerance of healthy cruciferous vegetables by starting with a small amount at first and slowly increasing the amount you eat over time.
Kale, arugula, watercress and bok choy are also cruciferous vegetables that can cause gas and bloating, but usually not at the same level as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts or broccoli. Try these lower gas alternatives if you still want to recieve the many health benefits of these kinds of veggies.
7. Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Shallots
Another set of vegetables that can cause gas and digestive problems are onions and the closely related garlic, leeks and shallots. These all contain high levels of fructans such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides.
While considered a prebiotic, the fructans in onions, leeks, shallots and garlic can cause gastrointestinal issues for many people, including bloating, excessive gas and even diarrhea and an aggravation of IBS symptoms.
If you experience intestinal pain after eating a meal with a lot of onion in it then a cup of ginger tea can usually help relieve it (and minimize onion breath as well).
Shallots, leeks, onions and especially garlic are also particularly high in sulfur compounds and can lead to some very smelly farts if eaten in excess. Eating parsley in the same meal as members of the onion family can help reduce both their gassiness and odor.
While not eaten as commonly as onions, asparagus contain high levels of both fructans and raffinose so can often be responsible for bad gas, belly bloat or unusual digestive issues in larger amounts.
Like many of the other foods listed here, asparagus is a very healthy vegetable and probably shouldn’t be avoided completely unless it is clearly giving you a painful stomach and making you excessively gassy whenever you eat it.
There are other much more commonly eaten foods that cause significantly more digestive distress than healthy vegetables like asparagus. Two of the worst offenders are the lactose in milk and the malabsorbed fructose found in so many supermarket foods and drinks.
Not usually thought of as a gas forming food, mushrooms contain moderate amounts of both raffinose and fructans and are therefore a potential source of bad gas if you eat too much of them at once.
Some mushroom varieties, such as portobello, button and Swiss brown mushrooms are also high in sugar alcohols like mannitol. While Asian oyster, black fungi and shimeji mushrooms are noted as some of the lowest in FODMAPs.
Smaller servings shouldn’t cause too many digestion problems, but a big mushroom meal, like mushroom soup or risotto, could definitely be behind excessive flatulence or bloating in the following hours.
Burping is a common side effect of eating cucumbers. They are also known to cause indigestion, bloating and gas if eaten in large amounts.
Compounds called cucurbitacins found in the skin and particularly stems of these crunchy vegetables are a big part of why cucumbers make you gassy. The higher the concentration of cucurbitacins in a cucumber the more bitter it will be so bitterness is a good indicator of whether a cucumber will give you gas.
Cucumbers are also natural diuretics. This can be beneficial for losing extra water weight but if you are suffering from watery stools or diarrhea it’s best to avoid eating large amounts of cucumber.
If you are worried about digestive problems from cucumbers then peeling them and cutting off the stems should stop these side effects. In fact, a peeled cucumber without the skin is more likely to be a quite low gas vegetable.
Corn is hard to digest and can cause bloating, flatulence and even diarrhea is large enough amounts. Fresh sweet corn is the worst but even cooked corn on the cob will often cause digestive problems.
High levels of indigestible cellulose in the kernels is primarily responsible for why corn causes gas and makes you bloated. Though relatively high amounts of raffinose and fructose (they do make high fructose corn syrup out of it after all) also contribute to the way corn makes you gassy.
If you are suffering from stomach aches, poor digestion or regular bloating and gas then avoid corn for a while. Alternatively, take digestive enzymes with it, particular when eating corn on the cob at a BBQ or other large and difficult to digest meal.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Some people can enjoy eating sweet potatoes without gas problems, while others experience a lot of bloating and gassiness whenever they eat them. Intestinal cramps and even diarrhea can also be side effects of eating too much sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes do contain insoluble fiber, which is often considered beneficial for digestive health, but it can make you gassy if you’re not used to it.
More importantly for gastrointestinal problems though, sweet potatoes are quite high in maltitol. Maltitol is a polyol or sugar alcohol that is indigestible and rapidly fermented by your lower gut bacteria, creating lots of flatus gas and often having a laxative effect.
If eating sweet potatoes gives you diaherra it’s likely your digestive system is quite sensitive to maltitol and you may also want to avoid other high sources of this polyol like button mushrooms, snow peas and celery.
Generally though, celery is considered a low gas vegetable and beneficial for digestive health. Celery juice is even a recognized heartburn, indigestion, intestinal cramps and bloating remedy.
13. Parsnip, Turnip and Radish
Quite notorious for causing bad gas, root vegetables such as parsnip, turnip, radish and rutabaga are full of indigestible fiber, raffinose and sulfur compounds which create highly odorous compounds like hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans in your colon.
In fact, parsnips and radishes are often ranked at the top of lists of the most gassy vegetables that also also cause the worst smelling flatulence. Most people eat these vegetables infrequently so they can be quite a shock to your digestive system if suddenly eaten in excess.
Raw radishes, often added to salads, are particularly high in strong smelling sulfur compounds. In small doses these substances are health promoting and anti-carcinogenic, though eating a lot of them could be responsible for some very embarrassing ‘rotten egg gas’ farts later.
Carrots can cause gas in large servings as well due to their fiber. However, they do have lower levels of sulfur and oligosaccharides than most root vegetables so can be considered a less gassy alternative comparatively.
A rarely eaten food for most people, both globe artichokes, and particularly Jerusalem artichokes, are extremely high in indigestible fructans. If you only eat these vegetables occasionally they are quite likely to cause extreme gas problems.
People often report heavy bloating and other intestinal issues like severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea when they have a meal with artichokes. These vegetables really should really be avoided by anyone without very good intestinal health.
Many people have found cooking flatulence causing vegetables like this with a teaspoon of these organic fennel seeds can greatly reduce gastrointestinal issues when they eat them.
Also, a cup of fennel tea is one of the most effective herbal remedies for bloating and intestinal cramps, no matter which gas causing food is responsible for the problem.
A List of Low Gas Vegetables
Some people will be particularly sensitive to gassy vegetables with their high levels of oligosaccharides, fructans or sulfur compounds. They may need to greatly reduce or even eliminate these kind of foods to avoid painful gastrointestinal problems.
For best results replace them with a mix of the following healthy low gas vegetables:
- Peeled cucumber
- Steamed potatoes
- Iceberg lettuce and the even healthier Romaine lettuce
- Red and orange bell pepper (not unripe green peppers)
- Parsley, coriander and other green herbs
- Cooked spinach, Swiss chard and most other leafy greens
- Summer, winter and butternut squash
- Fresh peas and green beans do cause gas as well but usually not as much as dried beans or chickpeas
- Bok choy, arugula and watercress are less gassy than other cruciferous vegetables
These veggies don’t commonly cause bad gas and you should be able to enjoy most them, even in fairly large servings, without experiencing bloating and excessive flatulence the next day.
The FODMAP diet can be helpful to pinpoint which particular foods are most problematic if you are having ongoing gastrointestinal upsets.
3 Ways to Reduce Gas from Veggies
For those who experience occasional bad gas and bloating, and suspect it might be from some of the 14 gas causing vegetables listed above, the following 3 tips should help to minimize future problems.
1. Take Smaller Bites and Chew Thoroughly
Rushed eating with large mouthfuls often leads to poor digestion and greatly increases the chance of food fermenting in the bowel and causing too much flatulence.
Chewing your food thoroughly mixes in saliva which starts off proper digestive processes. It also makes it easier for your stomach to break down your meal and lessens the chance of food reaching the lower intestine only partially digested.
Drinking a lot of liquid with a meal can cause similar problems. Soda is particularly bad due to its bizarre ingredients, but any liquid in large amounts can dilute stomach acids and disrupt the normal breakdown of your food.
Drinking water or herbal teas like fennel or ginger just before a meal rather than with it is much better for digestion.
2. Start off Slowly with Problem Vegetables
The vegetables on the list above are some of the healthiest around but it’s generally best to start off slowly when adding more of them to your diet.
Unsoaked beans and legumes will often cause gas due to their very high raffinose content but there are some more potential solutions, including for baked beans here.
Many people find they can handle cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, well if they build up of their intestinal tolerance to them over time. This involves starting off slowly with a smaller amount in meals and gradually increasing the serving size.
Generally, a mixture of vegetables will cause less problems than a whole plate of broccoli on its own. Similarly, vegetables like onions and mushrooms usually only make you gassy in larger amounts.
Artichokes, though, do seem to have strong gas producing effects even at smaller servings and it takes a very capable digestive tract to handle them without intestinal upsets. With so many other healthy veggies out there I’d suggest artichoke is one of the gas causing vegetables best avoided.
A broad spectrum digestive enzyme that breaks down oligosaccharides like raffinose and many other difficult to digest components of food can also be very helpful for reducing intestinal problems and excess gas.
This one I take daily is the most effective I’ve found and is best taken just before a potentially hard to digest meal with a big glass of water.
3. Improve the Intestinal Environment
Belly bloat, abdominal pain and really smelly flatulence can be symptomatic of unbalanced intestinal flora. The bacteria in your digestive tract can either be incredibly beneficial to your health, or quite destructive to it.
Using probiotics is a simple way to repopulate your intestinal flora with healthy strains that outcompete pathogenic bacteria and yeasts.
These bad bacteria, and yeasts like candida, can cause far more serious health problems in the long term than just flatulence so it’s very important to keep your intestinal environment in balance.
If you’ve taken antibiotics, which can wipe out beneficial gut bacteria and allow pathogenic strains to overgrow, then taking a good probiotic is especially necessary.
These potent time released probiotics are highly effective and can be taken just once a day. Have them at a double dose for at least two weeks after a course of antibiotics.
While these gas causing vegetables are frequently behind flatulence problems, there are other potential causes such as certain fruits that can cause gas, wheat and other grain products, poor protein digestion and especially the lactose in milk and a surprisingly long list of other foods.
Are there other vegetables that cause gas for your personally and do you have any tips for reducing flatulence when you eat them? You can find my favorite flatulence remedies here but I be interested to read about what works for you personally.
Photo 1: helirajasalo / Photo 2: Jo Christian Oterhals / Photo 3: liz west / Photo 4: Melanie / Photo 5: Kristin Brenemen
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