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White Bean Extract

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Updated August 02, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

White bean extract is a natural substance commonly sold in supplement form. Often referred to as Phaselous vulgaris, white bean extract is typically marketed as a "starch blocker."

How Is White Bean Extract Used For Weight Loss?

Proponents claim that white bean extract can prevent alpha-amylase (an enzyme that occurs naturally in the body) from breaking down carbohydrates into glucose (sugar). By slowing up alpha-amylase activity, proponents suggest, white bean extract leaves behind less glucose for the body to turn into fat.

White bean extract is widely marketed as a weight loss aid. The product is also purported to prevent obesity and reduce abdominal fat.

More Uses for White Bean Extract

Not only touted as a natural weight loss aid, white bean extract is said to keep blood sugar in check, fight insulin resistance, protect against diabetes and heart disease, enhance athletic performance, increase energy, ease symptoms of arthritis, and aid in the prevention of colon cancer.

Benefits of White Bean Extract

To date, there is limited research on the potential health benefits of white bean extract. However, some studies suggest that white bean extract may help promote weight loss. For instance, the authors of a research review published in Nutrition Journal in 2011 concluded that one proprietary white bean extract product (Phase 2 Carb Controller) may have the "potential to induce weight loss and reduce spikes in blood sugar caused by carbohydrates."

One of the few clinical trials to test the health effects of white bean extract was published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences in 2007. The study involved 60 slightly overweight volunteers whose weight had been essentially stable for at least six months. For 30 days, study participants took either 445 mg of white bean extract or a placebo daily (prior to consuming a meal rich in carbohydrates).

At the end of the 30-day period, researchers found that participants who had taken the white bean extract experienced a significantly greater reduction in body weight, fat mass, and waistline size (compared to members of the placebo group). What's more, white bean extract appeared to help the participants maintain lean body mass.

There is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of white bean extract for any other health-related purpose.

Side Effects

Due to the lack of long-term clinical trials, little is known about the safety of taking white bean extract for an extended period. There's some concern that use of white bean extract may trigger certain minor side effects (including nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Where to Buy It

Widely available for purchase online, white bean extract can also be found in many natural-foods stores (as well as stores specializing in dietary supplements).

When Should I Use It?

More research needs to be conducted before white bean extract can be recommended for weight loss. If you're looking to lose weight, the National Institutes of Health suggest following a weight-management plan that pairs healthy eating with regular exercise. Keeping a food diary, getting eight hours of sleep each night, and keeping your stress in check may also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

If you're considering the use of white bean extract for weight loss (or any other health purpose), talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.

Sources

Barrett ML, Udani JK. "A proprietary alpha-amylase inhibitor from white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): a review of clinical studies on weight loss and glycemic control." Nutr J. 2011 Mar 17;10:24.

Celleno L, Tolaini MV, D'Amore A, Perricone NV, Preuss HG. "A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women." Int J Med Sci. 2007 Jan 24;4(1):45-52.

National Institutes of Health. "Weight-Control Information Network - Weight Loss for Life". NIH Publication No. 04–3700. January 2009.

Obiro WC, Zhang T, Jiang B. "The nutraceutical role of the Phaseolus vulgaris alpha-amylase inhibitor." Br J Nutr. 2008 Jul;100(1):1-12.

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