Principal Proposed Uses
Supplements made from white kidney beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) are sold as starch blockers, supplements said to interfere with the digestion of carbohydrates and thereby promote weight loss.
Technically, starch blockers are amylase inhibitors . Amylase is one of the main enzymes the body uses to digest starch. In theory, when amylase is blocked, ingested starch can pass through the body undigested, contributing no calories.
Several possible reasons for this discrepancy have been proposed, such as that the amylase inhibitor may be broken down in the stomach, the product may supply enough of its own amylase to counteract any benefit, and that another enzyme, glucoamylase, may be able to take over when amylase can’t do the job. Whatever the cause, the net results in these studies were poor. Use of amylase inhibitors did not in fact block the digestion of starch.
On the basis of their widespread presence in commonly consumed foods (beans), amylase inhibitors are believed to be quite safe. One side effect, however, is to be expected: flatulence. It is the amylase inhibitors in beans that are responsible for their notorious gassiness.
Maximum safe doses in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe hepatic or renal disease have not been established.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -