Individuals wanting to lose weight should start regularly eating beans on toast, academics have said.

Researchers from the Shanghai Clinical Center for Diabetes have found that the resistant starch in Heinz baked beans and the wholegrains in brown bread are good for weight loss.

During the study, the scientists did not assess if beans were good for weight loss, but instead looked at if resistant starch helps people lose weight.

A total of 37 adults took part in the investigation, all of whom were overweight. Each participant consumed three pre-made meals to eat per day for 16 weeks.

In addition, they had to drink a 300ml glass of water and starch powder twice a day, with the sachet containing 40g of resistant corn starch in the first phase of the trial and a less beneficial type in the second.

On average the participants lost around six pounds in eight weeks when they consumed 40 grams of resistant starch each day, the findings have shown.

The authors said: “We demonstrate that resistant starch can facilitate weight loss. The benefits are associated with changes in gut microbiota composition.”

Resistant starch is classed as a prebiotic because it cannot easily be digested and absorbed in the small intestine, and instead is digested by bacteria as it reaches the large intestine.

Previous research has found that resistant starch has a similar effect to fibre by making people feel fuller for longer.

Resistant starch is found in beans, wholegrain bread, legumes, oats, beetroot, artichokes and hazelnuts.

Rob Hobson, award-winning nutritionist and author of Unprocess Your Life, said: “Beans could, in theory help people slim. However, slathering your toast in butter would negate any effects.

“Of course, lots of this is not going to happen from eating one serving. But if you ate it every day it might impact, depending on what the rest of your diet looked like.”

He added: “You can include resistant starches in your diet by eating foods like beans, lentils, starchy vegetables, seeds.”

Read the study in the journal Nature Metabolism.

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