How Much Hunger can a Blocker Bean Block if a Blocker Bean can Block Hunger?

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borlotto beans imageResearchers have discovered the “hunger hormone” and it is called ghrelin. The key to losing weight and fighting hunger cravings, say some researchers, is to block ghrelin, as less ghrelin means a smaller appetite and fewer cravings. Studies have linked folks with weight management issues to having higher levels of ghrelin. (2)

To date, short of gastric bypass surgery which – for some unknown reasons – reduces ghrelin levels, there are few methods to help lower levels of ghrelin. Surprisingly, researchers have found that the Italian Borlotto Lamon variety of the white kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) actually reduces ghrelin levels. (1, 2)

This special bean has been shown to reduce cravings and appetite, increase a feeling of fullness, reduce the desire to overeat, and modulate appetite hormones like ghrelin. (1, 2)

In addition, the Borlotto bean, like most beans, inhibits the alpha-amylase enzyme – which converts carbohydrates in the intestines into sugars. (2) Any excess sugar in the blood will quickly raise insulin levels, which will convert it into fat. Sadly, the fat around the belly and organs is 4 times as sensitive to insulin as is the fat, say, on your forearm. (3)

At a time when even moderate increases in blood sugar levels are being flagged as a health concern, this benefit scores big points for the modest Barlotto bean – all beans for that matter!

The active constituent in the Borlotto bean is called phyto-agglutinins. This is the key component that inhibits the hunger hormone and stimulates the release of other hormones that are responsible for the “I am full” message. (1,2)

Big Points for Beans – Cook Some!

Healthy blood sugar levels – which should probably be our number one health concern – are well supported by all beans. Their high fiber content, along with the many minerals and nutrients they offer, should make beans of all kinds a staple in your diet.

Consider getting a crock-pot and start some beans each morning. By lunch or dinner time, you’ll have a high-fiber, protein and nutrient-rich meal to come home to. Bon appétit!



1.     British Journal of Nutrition. Phaseolus vulgaris extract. 2013. May;109(10):1789-95
2.     Downey,M.  Life Extension Mag. Targeting Appetite Hormones to Prevent Food Cravings.  Feb. 2014
3.     Lieberman, D. The Story of the Human Body. Pantheon Press. NY. 2013

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  • Susan Atkinson

    Does this white kidney bean go by any other name, other than white kidney bean? Different than a white navy bean, or a simple whit bean? Thanks, Susan

    • LifeSpa Staff

      The specific bean is the Borlotto Lamon bean. Sometimes spelled Borlotti. Also called the Cranberry or Roman bean.

  • Anne Wright

    The suggestion of cooking beans, particularly kidney beans and other common beans, in a crock pot may not be safe. Phytohaemagglutinin has toxic effects which may not be be neutralized at temperatures reached in a slow cooker.

    From the wikipedia article on Phytohaemagglutinin:

    The [phytohaemagglutinin] lectin has a number of effects on cell metabolism; it induces mitosis, and affects the cell membrane in regard to transport and permeability to proteins. It agglutinates most mammalian red blood cell types.

    As a toxin, it can cause poisoning in monogastric animals, such as humans, through the consumption of raw or improperly prepared kidney beans. Measured in haemagglutinating units (hau), a raw red kidney bean can contain up to 70,000 hau. This can be reduced to safe levels by correct cooking (boiling for at least 30 minutes at 100°C).[5] However, cooking at 80°C, such as in a slow cooker, can increase this danger and raise the available hau up to fivefold.[6]

    Poisoning can be induced from as few as five raw beans, and symptoms occur within three hours, beginning with nausea, then vomiting, which can be severe and sustained (profuse), followed by diarrhea. Recovery occurs within four or five hours of onset, usually without the need for any medical intervention.

    [5] [6] “Bad Bug Book (2012)” (pdf). Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook: Phytohaemagglutinin. Food and Drug Administration. 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2013. “Consumers should boil the beans for at least 30 minutes to ensure that the product reaches sufficient temperature”

    [End of wikipedia excerpt]

    I realize that in this article Dr. Douillard is crediting “phyto-agglutinins” with the claimed beneficial effects on ghrelin. I have no idea if the the preparation methods needed to decrease the toxic effects also destroy the claimed beneficial effects or not.

    However, my understanding is that the toxic effects are the more significant concern, as they could contribute to processes such as leaky gut, development of autoimmunity, and excessive blood clotting. Since stumbling across the info on phytohaemagglutinin toxicity I’m certainly careful not to undercook or slow-cook beans!

  • flameschon

    where to buy organically grown Lamon Borlotti Beans?? It appears that the Lamon variety is the best.

    • LifeSpa Staff

      The specific bean is the Borlotto Lamon bean. Sometimes spelled Borlotti. Also called the Cranberry or Roman bean. You can usually find them at health or natural food stores, and some regular grocery stores. If you have an Italian grocery local, they will likely have them. Or you can order them online.

  • saraleeandpaul .

    Is there an online store that sells the extract? If not, how many beans would they recommend per day for the weight loss.