What Is The White Foamy Stuff When You Rinse Canned Beans?

You know what we're talking about.

Canned Chickpeas
Photo: Juanmonino / Getty Images

If you've ever washed off canned beans before making a salad or adding them to pasta and wondered what that soap-esque lather is foaming up, you're not alone. Did you accidentally spill soap in your colander? Are your beans still safe to eat? What could this possibly be?

It turns out there's a scientific reason your beans foam up, as recently discussed on the food website, The Kitchn. Canned beans are pre-cooked so that you can eat them immediately. The canning liquid deposits starches and proteins from the beans, according to Jackie Newgent, RDN, author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook: The Whole Food Approach to Great Taste and Healthy Eating. "This can also cause foaminess, especially in chickpeas and white beans," Newgent added.

A feature on beans called saponins also contributes to the foam-like substance. "Saponins are a group of naturally occurring plant compounds found in beans and other plant foods, like quinoa and spinach, that can produce foam when they're dissolved in water or other liquid," explained Newgent.

The foam is safe to consume, and Newgent indicated that the liquid might even have some positive benefits, like reducing blood cholesterol and offering anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties.

Of course, if you're buying canned beans cooked with salt, washing them off before use may help slash their sodium content, as several studies have shown. Key takeaway: The foamy substance is totally safe to consume. Carry on in all salad-making activities.

Now, what about the white stuff on cooked salmon?

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