Pinto Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Lower Non-HDL Cholesterol in Hamsters Fed a Diet Rich in Saturated Fat and Act on Genes Involved in Cholesterol Homeostasis

J Nutr. 2019 Jun 1;149(6):996-1003. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz044.


Background: Pinto beans contain multiple active agents such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and saponins, and have been shown to lower cholesterol, but the mechanisms involved in this effect have not been explored.

Objective: This study was to investigate the changes in cholesterol metabolism in response to whole pinto beans (wPB) and their hulls (hPB) supplemented into a diet rich in saturated fat and the molecular mechanisms potentially responsible for these effects in hamsters.

Methods: Forty-four 9-wk-old male Golden Syrian hamsters were randomly assigned to 4 diet groups (n = 11), including a 5% (wt:wt) fat diet [normal-fat diet (NF)], a 15% (wt:wt) fat diet [diet rich in saturated fat (HSF), saturated fatty acids accounted for 70% of total fatty acids], or HSF supplemented with 5% (wt:wt) wPB or 0.5% (wt:wt) hPB for 4 wk. Plasma, liver, intestinal, and fecal samples were collected to evaluate multiple cholesterol markers and gene targets.

Results: The plasma non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) concentration was significantly reduced in the wPB- and hPB-supplemented groups by 31.9 ± 3.5% and 53.6 ± 3.2%, respectively, compared with the HSF group (P < 0.01), to concentrations comparable with the NF group. The wPB-supplemented hamsters had significantly lower liver cholesterol (45.1%, P < 0.001) and higher fecal cholesterol concentrations (94.8%, P = 0.001) than those fed the HSF. The expressions of hepatic 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA reductase (Hmgcr) and small intestinal acyl-coenzyme A: cholesterol acyltransferase 2 (Acat2) were significantly decreased in animals administered wPB (by 89.1% and 63.8%, respectively) and hPB (by 72.9% and 47.7%, respectively) compared with their HSF-fed counterparts (P < 0.05). The wPB normalized the expression of Acat2 to the level of the NF group.

Conclusion: Pinto beans remediated high cholesterol induced by HSF in male hamsters by decreasing hepatic cholesterol synthesis and intestinal cholesterol absorption, effects which were partially exerted by the hulls.

Keywords: cholesterol; gene expression; hamster; pinto bean; saturated fat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol / genetics*
  • Cricetinae
  • Diet
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Gene Expression
  • Homeostasis
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mesocricetus
  • Phaseolus* / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Dietary Fats
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cholesterol