What are White Kidney Beans?
White kidney beans—also called cannellini beans—are a legume of the Phaseolus vulgaris plant, which is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Adding white kidney beans to one’s diet may have several health benefits, such as cardiovascular health, digestive health, and cognitive function. White kidney bean has anti-cancer properties, detoxifies sulfites, and can enable weight loss.
The mechanism by which white kidney beans enable weight loss is they contains substances that inhibit the enzyme amylase, which is needed to break down carbohydrates. If carbohydrates are not metabolized, the body cannot absorb them, which results in a reduction of caloric intake and results in weight loss.
White kidney bean extract is also available as a supplement, which may be in pill or powder form, with a recommended dosage of 500 to 1500 mg per day. Studies with white kidney bean supplementation has yielded an average weight loss ranging from 3.79 to 6.45 lbs. These studies include supplementation with 1500 mg of white kidney bean extract administered to individuals for eight weeks, after which the stated weight loss was noted.
Where Are White Kidney Beans Found?
White kidney beans are whole-food vegetables which are rich in protein and are often a diet staple in certain countries where most of their protein is from a plant source. It is also available in the form of dietary supplements, in capsule and powder form.
Facts About White Kidney Beans
- White kidney bean gets its name from the actual shape of the beans.
- It is native to Central and South America.
- White kidney beans contain antioxidants, vitamin B1 and B9.
- White kidney beans are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Phytohaemagglutinin is the toxic protein found in raw white kidney beans.
- White kidney beans are one of the richest sources of plant protein.
Health Benefits of White Kidney Beans
White kidney beans are rich in various vitamins and minerals which are involved in various bodily functions; these include molybdenum, folate, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin K and phosphorus. In addition, they also contain isoflavones—which are antioxidants used to prevent various cancers in certain organs the body.
Furthermore, white kidney beans are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. White kidney beans provide approximately 45 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (RDV) for dietary fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fiber promote overall digestive health by preventing constipation and diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
White kidney beans also find a role in enhancing heart health, being rich in folate (known as folic acid or vitamin B9), which reduces homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine is one of the risk factors associated with heart attack and stroke. By providing more than 50 percent of the recommended Daily Value for folate in a one-cup serving, white kidney beans greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks and promote cardiovascular health.
Findings published in the October 2002 issue of “Journal of the American Medical Association” indicate that if Americans consumed 100 percent of the daily value of folate, the risk factor for heart attacks would decline by 10 percent to 11 percent annually due to lower levels of homocysteine in the bloodstream.
Improving cognitive ability is another benefit of white kidney beans. They are rich in thiamine (vitamin B1), which is necessary for proper cell formation and brain function. They aid in memory function due to the role they play in synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain.
The mineral molybdenum—which is in white kidney beans—aids in the formation of sulfite oxidase, an enzyme responsible for removing sulfites from the body. A lack of molybdenum in the body may result in excess sulfites in the body and side effects such as headaches, rapid heartbeat and confusion.
Reacting adversely to sulfites indicates that molybdenum stores in your body are insufficient to cleanse them. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, 1 cup of cooked white kidney beans meets 177 percent of your DV for molybdenum.
Phaseolamin in white kidney beans inhibits alpha amylase, the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into monosaccharides for energy or storage. When this enzyme is blocked, some of the carbohydrates are not—or only partially—metabolized. When not fully broken down, carbohydrates cannot be absorbed by the small intestine and exit the body underutilized. The result can be a reduction in weight, as there are fewer carbohydrates converted and stored in fat deposits, and more glucose metabolized.
White bean extract can also help you lose the right kind of pounds:
One potential concern when people try to lose weight is how to maintain their lean body mass, or muscle, so that most of the weight lost consists of unwanted body fat. White bean extract may be able to help with this. A study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences in 2007 found that people who took this supplement while eating a carbohydrate-rich diet lost more weight, and more of that weight came from body fat, than those who followed the same diet but took a placebo.
But of note:
Because white bean extract limits carbohydrate absorption, it will have the most weight-loss benefits for those who eat a diet high in carbohydrates. Those who follow a low-carb diet aren’t likely to experience much of a benefit from this supplement.
The fiber in white kidney beans is not broken down, and it therefore passes through the intestine to the colon where it is fermented by bacteria into fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Are White Kidney Beans Ever Bad for You?
Properly cooked white kidney beans—both in their natural form and as a supplement—are recognized as safe for otherwise healthy individuals, causing only mild to moderate side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort.
However, for persons suffering from type 2 diabetes it is not recommended that they consume white kidney beans or take the supplements, as a starch-inhibiting agent is present: phaseolamin, which may cause adverse effects on the blood glucose levels. In addition, these inhibitors also interact with medications used for the treatment of diabetes.
Furthermore, white kidney beans should not be consumed by persons who are allergic to them, nor should the supplements be taken. Symptoms of allergic reaction may include hives, itching, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing and digestive disorders.
It is also not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or individuals suffering from liver and or kidney disease.
There are no adverse side effects associated with white kidney beans; they are considered generally safe to healthy individuals with only mild to moderate side effects.
Raw (unsoaked/uncooked) white kidney beans do contain phytohaemagglutinin, which is a toxin and may cause poisoning symptoms—diarrhea and vomiting—to the extent that hospitalization may be required. It should be noted that this toxin is removed by soaking for 5 hours and boiling for 10 minutes.
Phytic acid is also present; this compound blocks the absorption of various minerals such as iron and zinc. Another group of anti-nutrient present in white kidney beans are protease inhibitors; these can block the metabolism of proteins. Other side effects are gastrointestinal discomfort such as flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea.
Most of these side effects can be minimized or eliminated simply by easing them into your diet and not over-consuming them. One cup per day is sufficient.
How to Minimize Exposure
There is no reason to minimize exposure to white kidney beans or their extract unless:
- You have type 2 diabetes
- You are allergic to them
- You have liver disease
- You have kidney disease
- You are pregnant or nursing
In those cases, simply do not consume them or products containing them.
White kidney beans have very good benefits, ranging from weight loss to cardiovascular health, with relatively low side effects to healthy individuals. They are a source of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, necessary for proper bodily function and certain metabolisms.
Even though white kidney beans contain these beneficial compounds there are also certain plant chemicals and toxin that are inherent which may be hazardous to one’s health. It should be noted that the disadvantages or problems associated with white kidney bean can be properly managed either by simple methods of preparation or by the way in which it is administered.
White kidney beans added to diet have shown signs of success for persons who suffer with obesity, through a series of trials with participants losing as much as 6 pounds after a 30-day period.
Notwithstanding, before taking any supplements careful research and consultation with a health care provider should be done especially if you fall into a certain group of individuals in which the adverse side effects is more pronounced.
Furthermore, care should be taken when purchasing white bean supplements to ensure that they are pure and do not contain any other additives which may cause other side effects.