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Is Raffinose Bad For You?



Short answer

Raffinose is an oligosaccharide - food for the good bacteria in your gut. Fair warning: it might give you gas.



Long answer

Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates. They’re chains of three to ten simple sugar molecules linked together. Raffinose is a kind of oligosaccharide found in beans, lentils, cabbage and whole grains.

We can’t produce the enzymes to break down raffinose on our own. Eat a pot of beans, and the raffinose in those beans will pass through the small intestine undigested. The real action happens in the large intestine. It’s there that colonies of bacteria - which live in our gut who can break down raffinose - get their day in the sun.

That’s a good thing, generally: the probiotic bacteria in our large intestine feed on raffinose. In doing so, they break off simple sugars from raffinose for our digestive system to absorb. Raffinose is a prebiotic - it feeds those probiotic bacteria, keeping them healthy and strong. That’s important for maintaining a healthy digestive system.  Raffinose is also partially digestible by the ‘bad’ bacteria that live in our gut, like E. Coli, but that’s not generally a problem unless you accidentally eat some poop.

Eating foods rich in raffinose does have an unfortunate side effect. The probiotic bacteria in your gut produce gas when they break down raffinose. Specifically, they ferment the raffinose to produce carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen.

There’s pretty much one way for those gasses to escape your gut. You need to fart them out.  This is why eating beans give you gas. If you’ve got a healthy digestive system and you’re not on a first date, you should be able to pass the gas from raffinose without any problems.

Sometimes, however, flatulence isn’t healthy - particularly if you can’t pass it from your gut. At low levels, gas buildup can cause discomfort; if it builds up for too long, it can cause your large intestine to balloon, which in extreme cases can cause damage to your digestive system. Consult with your medical provider if you think this is the case.

Possible short-term side effects

  • gas
  • bloating
  • digestive discomfort

Commonly found in


  • promotes a healthy digestive system

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View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 11-14-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 11-14-2023

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