By Karen Appold
When looking to shed some extra pounds, you may want to consider a nutritional supplement known as a starch blocker. White kidney bean extract (Phaselous vulgaris) is the primary ingredient in starch blockers. These supplements prevent alpha-amylase—a naturally occurring digestive enzyme in saliva and the pancreas—from breaking down carbohydrates into glucose (sugar).
Glucose is multi-purposeful. Your body may use it for instant energy, store it in muscle tissue or the liver as glycogen, or transport it to the liver where it’s converted into lipids and stored as body fat.
By inhibiting this process, white kidney bean extract is believed by some to result in weight loss.
Some studies seem to support this premise. However, more research is needed.
A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences in 2007 involved 60 slightly overweight people whose weight had been fairly stable for at least six months. For 30 days, the participants were given either white bean extract or a placebo before eating a meal high in carbohydrates.
When the study concluded, researchers found that participants who received the white bean extract had a significantly greater reduction in body weight, fat mass, and waistline size (in comparison to those individuals who took the placebo). In addition, white bean extract seemed to help participants maintain lean body mass.
A similar study showed comparable results—92% of the group receiving white kidney bean extract lost weight versus 62% of the placebo group. In yet another study published in Nutrition Journal in 2011, researchers concluded that a certain white bean extract product may have the ability to induce weight loss and decrease spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates.
More healthful uses
Phaseolus vulgaris is native to Europe, Peru, and the Indies and has been used to treat a variety of ailments for thousands of years. In addition to being promoted as a product for natural weight loss, some say that white bean extract can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer; ease arthritis symptoms; increase energy; and improve your athletic performance.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.