What are White Kidney Beans?
White kidney beans, or cannellini beans, are native to Mexico and Central America and have been an important food crop for millennia. The botanical name for white kidney bean is Phaseolus vulgaris, and they are a member of the legume family — the same family as peanuts, clover and alfalfa. They are an excellent source of vegetarian protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Kidney beans are primarily starch, but they contain a lot of the type of starch that is slow to digest. This results in a gradual rise in blood sugar rather than a spike — particularly good news for people with diabetes.
High blood sugar is bad for everyone, not just diabetics. One negative effect of a spike in blood sugar is that the body sends the signal to store some of the energy away as fat. Foods containing carbs that digest slowly, such as white kidney beans, trigger the opposite effect.
The primary bioactive compound in white kidney beans is phaseolamin. In the plant, this compound is believed to protect against insect attacks. Phaseolamin serves as a precursor to an enzyme called an alpha-amylase inhibitor in the body. In plain English, this means white kidney beans contain an essential ingredient that is used in important chemical reactions in the body.
Even if you don’t like the taste of beans, you can still benefit by taking a white kidney bean supplement. Make sure you are getting pure white kidney bean extract without the fillers, flavors or other artificial additives.
White Kidney Bean Benefits
Antioxidants are the darlings of the health-conscious community these days due to their ability to prevent premature aging, ward off major illness and help boost overall wellness. White kidney beans contain plenty of antioxidants, which protects the body from free radical damage and lowers the risk of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and heart disease, to name just a few.
While everyone wants clean arteries and healthy cell mitochondria, these things are hard to see. But antioxidants also produce visible effects. Free radicals can really do a number on your skin. Besides being high in antioxidants, white kidney beans also contain protein and minerals like copper and zinc that offer protective effects against premature aging.
High in Protein
White kidney beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and one of the best plant proteins available. A cup of cooked kidney beans contains about 15 grams of protein. That accounts for more than a quarter of its total calories.
White kidney bean also contains special types of proteins, such as lectins and protease inhibitors. In high doses, lectins may interfere with metabolism, but some studies show that they offer protection against cancer and the growth of tumors (x).
As for protease inhibitors, they do exactly what they say they do — they inhibit protease, an enzyme that promotes the growth of cancers of the colon, breast and other types. Protease inhibitors also neutralize carcinogens found in foods (x).
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Luckily, increasing your intake of fiber and resistant starch may lower your risk for developing this type of cancer. White kidney bean contains considerable amounts of fiber and resistant starch, which could be a positive sign for colon health.
Resistant starch, in particular, offers various benefits for the colon, including taming Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea and diverticulitis (x). Additionally, resistant starch may improve the rate of mineral absorption (x).
Moderate Blood Sugar
Feeding your gut flora is just one of the things resistant starch does, but it has also been shown to offer many more health benefits, including improving insulin sensitivity. Being ‘sensitive’ to something may not sound like a positive, but in the case of insulin it is.
Insulin resistance is an indicator of many serious illnesses, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Being insulin-sensitive means that your system is functioning correctly and that you have enough insulin to handle the glucose (sugar) that enters your bloodstream.
The effect of resistant starch on the system is striking. A supplement of 15-30 grams of resistant starch for a period of four weeks was shown to offer an improvement of up to 50 percent more insulin sensitivity (x, x). Maintaining healthy blood sugar and insulin levels add up to an improved quality of life and a lower risk of developing life-threatening illnesses.
Resistant starch has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels following a meal. Even better, it offers something called the ‘second meal effect,’ meaning that if you eat resistant starch at lunch, it can keep your blood sugar from spiking at dinner.
Weight Loss Aid
With more than 40 percent of the U.S. population considered to be clinically obese and another 30 percent overweight, most of us could stand to drop a few (or more) pounds. White kidney bean supplements can help you shed pounds by blocking the absorption of carbohydrates.
White Kidney Bean Side Effects
Side effects are generally mild and similar to an abrupt increase in fiber intake. Gas and diarrhea are possible due to the extra bulk passing through the system. Reports of constipation and bloating have also been recorded. However, the symptoms usually disappear within a few days when the supplement is taken consistently.
Amylase inhibitors can lower blood sugar, which may make it an unsuitable supplement for those with diabetes or hypoglycemia. Anyone with a chronic health condition should consult with a healthcare professional before adding any supplements to their diet.
It is important to note that amylase inhibitors are sometimes extracted from wheat. This can cause an allergic reaction in those with a wheat sensitivity.
If you are allergic to legumes, you should not take white kidney bean as a supplement. Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a doctor before taking this supplement.
When supplementing with white kidney bean powder, take 1,500 mg daily with at least 8 oz of water. Of course, be sure to consult a doctor before adding this supplement to your daily regimen.
The Bottom Line
The white kidney bean supplement supplies high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and resistant starch. It can improve digestion and lower risk of certain diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. Combined with a sensible diet and exercise plan, white kidney bean extract can help you meet your weight loss and health goals, as well as improve your overall well-being.