StarchLite is an extract of the common white bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). It works by binding temporarily to alpha-amylase, the enzyme responsible for digesting complex carbohydrates, thereby delaying the absorption of carbohydrates and potentially promoting weight loss.
Study results released earlier this year also showed that StarchLite has the potential to significantly reduce the glycemic index of white bread by 20.23 points, or 39.07 percent.
It is suitable for use in all food and beverage products that normally have a heavy carbohydrate load, including cereals, frozen foods, packaged meals, pasta, pizza crust, soups and confectionary.
Whilst on the one-hand it might be used to make such products not-so-unhealthy, it might also be used in products aimed at people who are actively trying to manage their weight or blood glucose levels.
In sensory evaluations carried out by independent research firm Tragon Corp, products made with StarchLite compared favourably to conventional products - and in some cases were even preferred.
This is important, as it is generally recognised to be much easier to persuade consumers to switch to healthier versions of their favorite products than to cut them out of their diet altogether.
"Developing an ingredient that will reduce the caloric impact and GI of foods without negatively affecting the taste has been the ultimate goal of the food industry," said Mitch Skop, director of new product development. "Many low-cal products have been introduced, but don't pass the taste test."
Company spokesperson Tom McCartney told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the ingredient has the potential to be "huge".
It is not expected that it will be long before the first products containing StarchLite are launched: developments are already underway with a speciality baker and a pasta-maker.
The New Jersey-based company has previously offered a white-bean derived ingredient called Phase 2 Neutraliser as a dietary supplement ingredient, as well as in a consumer product to be sprinkled directly over starchy foods called Carb Counters.
A study published in the Alternative Medicine Review (2004:9(1):63-69) gave backing to Pharmachem's efficacy claims: a double-blind placebo-controlled human trial was performed on 50 obese adults, who received either 1500mg of Phase 2 or an identical placebo twice daily with their meals. The participants taking the Phase 2 supplement were shown to lose an average of 3.79lbs each after an eight-week period, compared to 1.65lbs for the placebo group.