“All disease begins in the gut.” This quote by the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, still rings true.
Always remember that your gut is what determines your overall health. This is why there is so much talk about fiber, probiotics, colonics, and fermented foods. These foods help you flush the toxins out of your system and keep your gut in great condition. However, there is this one simple food that secretly works in keeping your gut healthy but is often overlooked. It is ‘resistant starch.’ Read on to learn about the splendid benefits of resistant starch and how you can include foods rich in resistant starch in your diet.
What Is Resistant Starch?
A type of starch, as the name suggests, resistant starch is found in some of the most common sources of carbohydrate-based foods. Found in grains, rice, pasta, cooked and cooled potatoes, resistant starch is hard to digest, which makes it ‘resistant’ in nature.
The human body contains enzymes that break the starch from the food we eat into small molecules of glucose. This glucose enters our blood and supplies the body with energy. Eating resistant starch has proved to support healthy populations of microflora that are friendly to the gut. Since resistant starch cannot be digested easily like other forms of starch, the digestive tract remains largely undisturbed. Once the resistant starch enters the large intestine, the good bacteria in the gut use it to benefit the body.1
List Of Foods With Resistant Starch
Having a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods will spike your blood sugar, so look at the list below to learn which foods are high in resistant starch, offer a lot of essential nutrients, and also, wouldn’t raise your blood sugar levels.
- Green, underripe bananas
- Green banana flour
- Seeds, soaked and cooked
- Beans and legumes, soaked and cooked
Resistant Starch Content In Some Popular Foods
The resistant starch content varies in various sources.
Grains: Grains are filled with resistant starch that resists digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
(Per half-cup serving)
- Rolled or steel-cut oats (raw or toasted): 11 grams
- Pumpernickel bread (cooked): 4.5 grams
- Pearl barley (cooked): 2.5 grams
Note: Cooking oats in liquid reduces the amount of resistant starch present in them by a significant amount.
Legumes: The starch in legumes stays within the fibrous cell walls of the plants, which make it resistant in nature.
(Per half-cup serving)
- White beans (cooked): 4 grams
- Lentils (cooked): 3.5 grams
- Chickpeas (cooked): 3 grams
- Green peas (cooked): 2.5 grams
Bananas: Look out for green bananas and plantains with a few black spots. As bananas and plantains ripen, the starch in them transforms into fast-digesting amylopectin.
(Per half-cup serving)
- Green bananas (raw): 4 grams
- Green and yellow plantains (cooked): 3.5 grams
Rice and potatoes: Rice and potatoes should be consumed only once they cool down. After they are cooked, when hot, the starch is almost all amylopectin, which is easily digestible. As they cool down, some of the starch in them hardens into tight amylose molecules.
(Per half-cup serving)
- Long-grain white rice and white potatoes (cooked): 1.5 grams
- Short-grain rice (cooked in pressure cooker): Only 0.2 grams
The Incredible Health Benefits Of Resistant Starch
Resistant starch is like fuel for the good bacteria in your gut. The beneficial bacteria that line your gut feast on resistant starch and proliferate. Here are some of the incredible benefits of resistant starch:
1. Heals The Lining Of Your Bowels
When the bacteria in the gut feed on resistant starch, they produce a by-product called butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that fuels the cells lining the colon. This compound helps the bowels to stay healthy, strong, and fight off cancerous cells.2 3 It is absorbed from the colon and is released into the bloodstream so that it can help in the systematic reduction of inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect is so strong that butyrate supplements have been made to try and help with inflammatory bowel disease. Butyrate might even help in improving blood circulation to the bowel.
2. Helps In The Growth And Proliferation Of Good Gut Bacteria
Gut bacteria loves resistant starch. Resistant starch is a good source of nutrition for these bacteria and regular doses allow the gut microbes to flourish and multiply. Resistant starch intake on a daily basis can support a healthy population of good microflora. In fact, animal studies have proved that this nutrient is responsible for the improvement of both the number and type of good bacteria in the gut.4
3. Can Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar, if goes unmanaged, can wreak havoc on your body. Insulin resistance is a slope that paves the way for a number of chronic diseases. However, studies have proved that including resistant starch in the diet can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the spiking of blood glucose levels after a meal.5 A “second meal effect” is also seen, which means that after eating one meal containing resistant starch, the insulin and blood glucose levels may rise less after the following meal as well.
4. May Help You Lose Weight
The good news is that carbohydrates are not always bad for your waistline! Eating resistant starch may, in fact, offer metabolic benefits and weight loss. Better regulation of insulin and blood glucose, less calorie intake, and quick feeling of satiety are some of the benefits that resistant starch offer and result in weight loss.6 7
How Much Resistant Starch Is Enough?
Experts say that eating 20 grams of resistant starch helps you maintain optimal bowel health. This recommendation might sound too high for Americans who get only 4.9 grams of resistant starch on an average and Australians whose average intake is only 6 grams per day. However, those countries that follow a plant-based diet get anywhere between 30 to 40 grams of resistant starch on an average.
How To Consume Enough Resistant Starch?
You can add resistant starch in your diet in two ways:
- Food sources
You can start having cooked and cooled rice and potatoes, peas and legumes, and green bananas. Munching on raw oats is also a good idea. Some of these are high-carb foods, and if you are on a low-carb diet, you might not be able to fit them all in. In such a situation, you can add resistant starch to your diet without adding any digestible carbohydrates.
Start having raw potato starch that contains 8 grams of resistant starch per tablespoon. This starch is almost devoid of any usable carbohydrate. Since it tastes bland, you can add it to your smoothies or sprinkle on your food as well. Four tablespoons of raw potato starch provide almost 32 grams of resistant starch.
However, consult with your doctor or a nutritionist before you add it to your diet. You can also take resistant starch supplements that are easily available. It may take two to four weeks for you to notice all the benefits. Consult a doctor before you start taking any supplements.
|↑1||Higgins, Janine A. “Resistant starch: metabolic effects and potential health benefits.” Journal of AOAC International 87, no. 3 (2004): 761-768.|
|↑2||Scheppach, Wolfgang, Hardi Luehrs, and Thomas Menzel. “Beneficial health effects of low-digestible carbohydrate consumption.” British Journal of Nutrition 85, no. S1 (2001): S23-S30.|
|↑3||Andoh, Akira, Tomoyuki Tsujikawa, and Yoshihide Fujiyama. “Role of dietary fiber and short-chain fatty acids in the colon.” Current pharmaceutical design 9, no. 4 (2003): 347-358.|
|↑4||Silvi, S., C. J. Rumney, A. Cresci, and I. R. Rowland. “Resistant starch modifies gut microflora and microbial metabolism in human flora‐associated rats inoculated with faeces from Italian and UK donors.” Journal of applied microbiology 86, no. 3 (1999): 521-530.|
|↑5||Yamada, Yuji, Seio Hosoya, Shigeru Nishimura, Takashi Tanaka, Yoshitaka Kajimoto, Akira Nishimura, and Osami Kajimoto. “Effect of bread containing resistant starch on postprandial blood glucose levels in humans.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 69, no. 3 (2005): 559-566.|
|↑6||Higgins, Janine A. “Resistant starch and energy balance: impact on weight loss and maintenance.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 54, no. 9 (2014): 1158-1166.|
|↑7||Raben, Anne, Anna Tagliabue, Niels J. Christensen, Joop Madsen, Jens Juul Holst, and Ante Astrup. “Resistant starch: the effect on postprandial glycemia, hormonal response, and satiety.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 60, no. 4 (1994): 544-551.|