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Food, Health, and Eco-news
Beany Starch Curbed Men's Diabetes Risk
We've reported several times on studies involving so-called “resistant” starch … the kind found in beans. 
For an overview, see “Beans Aid Weight and Blood Sugar Control,” which provides links to earlier reports.
Sugars and most starches are rapidly digested and absorbed, and are either burned for short-term energy needs, stored as glycogen (brain/muscle fuel) or turned into unhealthful belly fat.   
Resistant starch (RS) and dietary fiber pass through the small intestine and provide no short-term energy … but they have a variety of beneficial physiological effects. 
Where is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is naturally present in certain foods, listed here in descending order of content:
  • Beans and lentils (legumes)
  • Whole grains
  • Cooked-and-chilled pasta and rice
Of these, beans are the richest source of resistant starch by far.
Beans also contain a higher proportion compared with the other sources, and like whole grains, dark-hued beans provide fiber and beneficial polyphenols.
Resistant starch curbs post-meal spikes in blood sugar and insulin, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improves insulin sensitivity, increases satiety (food satisfaction), and reduces storage of carbs as fat.
As the author of a University of Colorado review noted, “These properties make RS … attractive … for the prevention of diseases associated with dyslipidemia and insulin resistance as well as the development of weight loss diets and dietary therapies for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease” (Higgins JA 2004)
Also referred to as “non-glycemic” carbohydrates, resistant starches are fermented in the gut (like some dietary fibers), provide long-term energy, and can stabilize blood sugar for hours after being consumed.
Now, the results of a clinical trial show that low doses of a natural resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in men at risk for pre-diabetes.
Clinical trial affirms blood-sugar benefits of beans
Study leader Kevin C. Maki, Ph.D., reported on this randomized, double blind, controlled, crossover trial at Experimental Biology 2011 in Washington, DC (Maki KC et al. 2012).
His team recruited 33 non-diabetic men and women aged 18 to 69 years (average 49.5).
The participants had an average BMI of 30.6 kg/m2 and large waist circumferences considered markers for poor insulin sensitivity (i.e., insulin resistance).
The volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
  1. Control starch containing no resistant starch
  2. Resistant (test) starch – 30 grams (one oz) per day
  3. Resistant (test) starch – 15 grams (one-half oz) per day
The resistant starch was extracted from a commercial hybrid corn strain (Hi-maize 260) but is very similar to the resistant starches in beans and in other whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, brown rice, or whole oats).
The trial involved three treatment periods of four-weeks each, separated by three-week “washout” periods, after which participants switched groups.
Each person's insulin sensitivity was measured at the end of each period.
Men showed a 72 percent improvement in insulin sensitivity after consuming 30 grams of resistant starch daily and a 56 percent improvement from daily intake of 15 grams.
In contrast, women who consumed resistant starch showed no improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Why would the women have shown no benefit?
The authors suggested two reasons: the women were less insulin-resistant at the outset, and changes over the menstrual cycle may have obscured the effects of the resistant starch they consumed.
The take-away from this trial is simple … get in the habit enjoying beans instead of refined grains!
  • 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(1):24. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Boivin M, Flourie B, Rizza RA, et al. Gastrointestinal and metabolic effects of amylase inhibition in diabetics. Gastroenterology 1988;94:387–94.
  • Boivin M, Zinsmeister AR, Go VL, DiMagno EP. Effect of a purified amylase inhibitor on carbohydrate metabolism after a mixed meal in healthy humans. Mayo Clin Proc 1987;62:249–55.
  • Boivin M, Zinsmeister AR, Go VL, DiMagno EP. Effect of a purified amylase inhibitor on carbohydrate metabolism after a mixed meal in healthy humans. Mayo Clin Proc 1987;62:249–55.
  • Bo-Linn GW, Santa Ana CA, Morawski SG, Fordtran JS. Starch blockers—their effect on calorie absorption from a high-starch meal. N Engl J Med 1982;307:1413–6.
  • Brugge WR, Rosenfeld MS. Impairment of starch absorption by a potent amylase inhibitor. Am J Gastroenterol 1987;82:718–22.
  • Carlson GL, Li BU, Bass P, Olsen WA. A bean alpha-amylase inhibitor formulation (starch blocker) is ineffective in man. Science 1983;219:393–5.
  • 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.
  • Higgins JA. Resistant starch: metabolic effects and potential health benefits. J AOAC Int. 2004 May-Jun;87(3):761-8. Review.
  • Higgins JA. Resistant starch: metabolic effects and potential health benefits. J AOAC Int. 2004 May-Jun;87(3):761-8. Review.
  • Johnston KL, Thomas EL, Bell JD, Frost GS, Robertson MD. Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in metabolic syndrome. Diabet Med. 2010 Apr;27(4):391-7.
  • Keenan MJ, Zhou J, McCutcheon KL, Raggio AM, Bateman HG, Todd E, Jones CK, Tulley RT, Melton S, Martin RJ, Hegsted M. Effects of resistant starch, a non-digestible fermentable fiber, on reducing body fat. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Sep;14(9):1523-34.
  • Kendall CW, Emam A, Augustin LS, Jenkins DJ. Resistant starches and health. J AOAC Int. 2004 May-Jun;87(3):769-74. Review.
  • Maki KC, Pelkman CL, Finocchiaro ET, Kelley KM, Lawless AL, Schild AL, Rains TM. Resistant Starch from High-Amylose Maize Increases Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight and Obese Men. J Nutr. 2012 Feb 22. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Preuss HG. Bean amylase inhibitor and other carbohydrate absorption blockers: effects on diabesity and general health. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Jun;28(3):266-76.
  • So PW, Yu WS, Kuo YT, Wasserfall C, Goldstone AP, Bell JD, Frost G. Impact of resistant starch on body fat patterning and central appetite regulation. PLoS One. 2007 Dec 12;2(12):e1309.
  • Tucci SA, Boyland EJ, Halford JC. The role of lipid and carbohydrate digestive enzyme inhibitors in the management of obesity: a review of current and emerging therapeutic agents. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2010 May 10;3:125-43.
  • Udani J, Hardy M, Madsen DC. Blocking carbohydrate absorption and weight loss: a clinical trial using Phase 2 brand proprietary fractionated white bean extract. Altern Med Rev. 2004 Mar;9(1):63-9.
  • Udani J, Singh BB. Blocking carbohydrate absorption and weight loss: a clinical trial using a proprietary fractionated white bean extract. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;13(4):32-7.
  • Udani JK, Singh BB, Barrett ML, Preuss HG. Lowering the glycemic index of white bread using a white bean extract. Nutr J. 2009 Oct 28;8:52.

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