Bean amylase inhibitor and other carbohydrate absorption blockers: effects on diabesity and general health

J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Jun;28(3):266-76. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2009.10719781.


Many believe that excessive intake of refined carbohydrates (CHO) plays a major role in the development of obesity/overweight, type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance, a collection of events commonly referred to as "diabesity," and have sought natural means to overcome these linked perturbations. As a first approach, planned diets with low portions of refined CHO have become popular. However, these diets do not satisfy everyone; and many are concerned over replacing CHO with more fats. As a second option, addition of soluble fiber to the diet can slow absorption of refined CHO, i.e., lower the glycemic index of foods and overcome or at least ameliorate many of the adverse reactions resulting from increased refined CHO ingestion. Unfortunately, the general public does not favor diets high in fiber content, and various fibers can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as gas and diarrhea. A third choice to favorably influence CHO absorption is to use natural dietary supplements that block or slow CHO absorption in the gastrointestinal tract via inhibiting enzymes necessary for CHO absorption -amylase and alpha-glucosidases. Although a number of natural supplements with anti-amylase activity have been recognized, the most studied and favored one is white kidney bean extract. Animal and human studies clearly show that this agent works in vivo and has clinical utility. This paper reviews many aspects of diabesity and the use of "carb blockers" to prevent and ameliorate the situation. In many respects, carb blockers mimic the beneficial effects of fibers.

MeSH terms

  • Absorption / drug effects
  • Amylases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Phaseolus / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / pharmacology
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / therapeutic use*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary
  • Amylases