Raffinose Content of Foods

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Food NameRaffinose
Beverage base, malted milk powder, unfortified0.1
Juice, carrot0.2
Juice, vegetable blend, 55% carrot & 45% celery, silverbeet & parsley0.1
Juice, vegetable blend, 55% carrot & 45% celery, silverbeet & parsley, sweetened0.1
Artichoke, jerusalem, peeled, raw7.5
Sweetcorn, fresh on cob, raw0.0
Pea, green, frozen, boiled, drained0.1
Snowpea, raw0.0
Bean, broad, fresh, raw0.2
Bean, butter, fresh, raw0.1
Bean, red, fresh, raw0.0
Artichoke, jerusalem, peeled, boiled8.1
Snowpea, stir-fried without oil0.0
Snowpea, boiled, drained0.0

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Raffinose is a trisaccharide composed of galactose, fructose, and glucose. It can be found in beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains.

The raffinose family of oligosaccharides (RFOs) are almost ubiquitous in the plant kingdom, being found in a large variety of seeds from many different families, and they rank second only to sucrose in abundance as soluble carbohydrates.

Humans and other monogastric animals (pigs and poultry) do not possess the enzyme to break down RFOs and these oligosaccharides pass undigested through the stomach and upper intestine. In the lower intestine, they are fermented by gas-producing bacteria which do possess the α-GAL enzyme and make carbon dioxide, methane, and/or hydrogen—leading to the flatulence commonly associated with eating beans and other vegetables. α-GAL is present in digestive aids such as the product Beano.

Gas and Bloating Associated with Raffinose

Some people feel that they pass too much gas or burp too frequently. The average adult produces about one to three pints of gas each day, which is passed through the anus one to two dozen times per day. The amount of gas produced by the body depends upon your diet and other individual factors. Certain foods and medical conditions can cause you to make excessive amounts of gas.

There are two primary sources of intestinal gas: gas that is ingested (mostly swallowed air) and gas that is produced by bacteria in the colon. The colon normally provides a home for billions of harmless bacteria, some of which support the health of the bowel. Certain carbohydrates are incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and intestines, allowing bacteria to digest them. For example, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli contain raffinose, a carbohydrate that is poorly digested. These foods tend to cause more gas and flatulence because the raffinose is digested by bacteria once it reaches the colon. The by-products of this process include odorless gases, such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. Minor components of gas have an unpleasant odor, including trace amounts of sulfur.

Some people are not able to digest certain carbohydrates. A classic example is lactose, the major sugar contained in dairy products. Thus, consuming large amounts of lactose may lead to increased gas production, along with cramping and diarrhea.

Foods that cause gas — Several foods contain the carbohydrate raffinose, which is poorly digested and can increases gas production. Foods that contain raffinose include beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. Avoiding these foods or eating them infrequently may reduce the amount of gas you produce. Starch and soluble fiber can also contribute increase gas. Potatoes, corn, noodles, and wheat produce gas while rice does not. Soluble fiber (found in oat bran, peas and other legumes, beans, and most fruit) also causes gas. Some laxatives contain soluble fiber and may cause gas, particularly during the first few weeks of use. Intolerance to food sugars — Some people are intolerant of sugars contained in certain foods. Two common examples are fructose (contained in dried fruit, honey, sucrose, onions, artichokes, and many foods and drinks that contain "high fructose corn syrup") and sorbitol (a sugar substitute contained in some sugar free candies and chewing gum).

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