Carbs have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is that not all carbs are created equal. Some carbs are good for your gut health! These are called “resistant starches,” and they’re a type of carbohydrate that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Most of the carbs you consume including bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes contain resistant starch. However, the amount of resistant starch varies depending on how the food is prepared. For example, cooked and cooled potato starch has a higher concentration of resistant starch than a raw potato. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning, benefits, and sources of resistant starch, as well as how you can add more of it to your diet. Find the detailed resistant starches list below!
What Is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that, like dietary fiber, resists digestion in the small intestine. This means it passes through to the large intestine relatively intact, where it is fermented by gut bacteria (6).
During this fermentation process, short-chain fatty acids are produced that have several health benefits including improved gut barrier function, reduced inflammation, and increased insulin sensitivity (10).
In addition, resistant starch is thought to promote bowel regularity, decrease colon cancer risk, and improve gut microbiota composition (6).
Interestingly, resistant starch is classified as a type of carbohydrate, but it doesn’t contribute to the glycemic load of the food or meal. This means it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
What Are The Four Types Of Resistant Starch?
According to its physical and chemical properties, resistant starch is divided into four types (2):
This is physically inaccessible starch, meaning it is surrounded by indigestible plant cell walls. This type of resistant starch is found in whole grains and seeds.
This type of starch is in intact granules that cannot be digested by enzymes. It’s compact and resistant to heat, so it’s found in raw potato starch and under-ripe bananas.
This type of starch is retrograded or resistant to digestion because it’s been cooked and cooled. You’ll find this type in starchy foods like potatoes and rice that have been cooled after cooking.
This type of starch is a synthetic polymer that’s resistant to digestion. It’s often used as a food additive.
Now that we know what resistant starch is, let’s look at some of the best sources of this gut-friendly fiber.
What Are The Benefits Of Resistant Starch?
There are several potential health benefits associated with resistant starch intake, such as:
Improved Gut Barrier Function
The short-chain fatty acids produced during resistant starch fermentation have been shown to improve gut barrier function (8).
This is important because a healthy gut barrier is key to gut health and integrity.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is an important hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Resistant starch has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is important for managing type 2 diabetes or preventing its development (7).
Promotes Bowel Regularity
Resistant starch acts similarly to a prebiotic fiber, meaning it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. This can help promote bowel regularity and prevent constipation (1).
Decreased Colon Cancer Risk
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the world. The fermentation of resistant starch by gut bacteria produces short-chain fatty acids that may have preventative effects against colon cancer (9).
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What Are Examples Of Resistant Starches?
Below is a list of foods that contain resistant starches:
Oats are one of the best sources of resistant starch. A 100-gram of cooked oats contains 2.6 grams of this gut-friendly fiber (3). Cooking and cooling oats (i.e. making oatmeal) increase their resistant starch content.
Brown rice is another good source of resistant starch. It also contains other micronutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Brown rice contains a type of resistant starch known as retrograde starch, which is formed when it is cooked and then cooled.
Several other healthy grains such as sorghum and barley also contain resistant starch. In addition to being a good source of resistant starch, these grains are also a good source of other important nutrients such as B vitamins and iron.
Beans And Lentils
Beans and lentils are a great source of plant-based protein in addition to resistant starch. They also contain other micronutrients such as folate and magnesium. Most types of beans contain about 1 to 5 grams of resistant starch per 100 grams when cooked (4).
Cooked and cooled potatoes are a good source of retrograde-resistant starch. Sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and even potato skins contain this gut-friendly fiber.
In addition to resistant starch, green bananas also contain other nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium.
As they ripen, the starch in bananas is converted to sugar, so you might want to eat them when they’re still green to get the maximum amount of resistant starch.
Pasta is made from wheat flour, which contains a type of resistant starch known as slowly digestible starch. This type of starch is not completely digested and absorbed by the body, so it acts more like a prebiotic fiber.
Cooling cooked pasta increases its resistant starch content.
Unripe fruits such as apples and pears contain a type of resistant starch known as pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that becomes more gelatinous when it’s cooked.
As fruits ripen, some of the pectin is converted to sugar, so in some cases you may want to eat them when they’re still unripe.
Resistant Starch Supplements
If you want to increase your resistant starch intake, there are a few different ways to do so. One option is to take a resistant starch supplement. These supplements are typically made from potato or tapioca starch.
Another option is to use a prebiotic powder that contains resistant starch. These powders can be added to smoothies or other beverages.
Read More: Starchy Fruits You Should Steer Clear Of
How To Add More Resistant Starch To Your Diet?
If you’re looking for ways to add more resistant starch to your diet, here are a few ideas:
Cook In Advance
Rice, potatoes, beans, and pasta have the type of starch that becomes more resistant when cooled. So, cook extra for your next meal and save some for later in the week.
Reheating them doesn’t reduce the resistant starch content.
Eat Overnight Oats
Raw oats have more resistant starch than cooked oats, but they’re also less palatable. Soaking oats overnight in milk or yogurt makes them more easily digestible and ups the resistant starch content.
Add Raw Potato Starch To Your Favorite Recipes
You can add a tablespoon or two of raw potato starch to sauces, stews, and casseroles. It will thicken them slightly and add some extra resistant starch. Just be sure to add it near the end of cooking so it doesn’t get overcooked.
Add Lentils To Salads Or Soup
Lentils are a versatile legume that can be used in a variety of dishes. They cook quickly and are a good source of resistant starch.
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Sprinkle Chia Seeds On Your Food
Chia seeds are a type of seed that’s high in fiber and resistant starch. You can add them to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal. You may also sprinkle them on top of salads or other dishes.
Make A Resistant Starch Smoothie
Add a tablespoon of raw potato starch to your favorite smoothie recipe. You won’t be able to taste it, but it will add some extra resistant starch and help thicken the drink.
While increasing resistant starch or fiber intake, it’s important to do it gradually. A sudden increase can lead to gas and bloating. Start with smaller amounts of resistant starch and slowly increase over time as your gut gets used to it.
The Bottom Line
You can find resistant starch in some high-fiber foods such as beans, oats, and barley. Adding these foods to your diet is a great way to increase your resistant starch intake while also getting other important nutrients.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits (2013, mdpi.com)
- Health properties of resistant starch (2005, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Oat bran, cooked (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Original article Evaluation of resistant starch content of cooked black beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas (2016, sciencedirect.com)
- Regulation of Inflammation by Short Chain Fatty Acids (2011, mdpi.com)
- Resistant Starch: Promise for Improving Human Health (2013, academic.oup.com)
- Resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity independently of the gut microbiota (2017, biomedcentral.com)
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)-Mediated Gut Epithelial and Immune Regulation and Its Relevance for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (2019, frontiersin.org)
- Short Chain Fatty Acids in the Colon and Peripheral Tissues: A Focus on Butyrate, Colon Cancer, Obesity and Insulin Resistance (2017, mdpi.com)
- The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between gut microbiota and diet in cardio-metabolic health (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)