Beans are darn near perfect. Not only are they low in fat and sodium; they're also chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein. But we all know their tragic flaw: gas, a result of beans' undigestible sugars. Now bean lovers (not to mention those around them) have a reason to rejoice.

Venezuelan researchers report that the key to making gas-free beans is fermenting the beans before cooking them (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 2006, vol. 86, no. 8). The secret lies in two strains of bacteria, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum. You can encourage these helpful bacteria to grow either by adding them to a batch of beans before cooking, or (as savvy cooks will tell you) by cooking beans in the juices from a previous batch. Bonus: Once these fermented beans are cooked, the amount of nutrients that can be digested and absorbed increases significantly.