Most carbohydrates in the diet are found in the form of starches. Starches are long chains of glucose found in cereals, potatoes and other foods. Not all starch can be completely processed by our digestive system. Such starches are called resistant starches because they are resistant to our digestion.
Many studies point to the potential health benefits of resistant starch, including: improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar, reduced appetite and improved digestion.
Currently, resistant starch is a popular topic and many people are seeing great improvements by incorporating it into their daily diet.
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What is resistant starch and how does it work?
There are 4 different types of resistant starch:
- Type 1: Found in cereals, seeds and legumes and resists digestion by binding to fibrous cell walls
- Type 2: Found in some starch-rich foods such as raw potatoes and green bananas
- Type 3: This type occurs in cold cooked foods such as potatoes and rice. Cooling turns some digestible starches into resistant ones through a process called retrogradation.
- Type 4: It is artificially created by man
This division is only indicative as different types of resistant starch can coexist in the same food. Depending on the method of preparation, the amount of resistant starch in the food varies.
For example, if bananas are allowed to ripen (turn yellow), the resistant starch in them degrades to normal digestible starch.
The main reason why resistant starch works beneficially is that it works similarly to soluble and fermentable fiber. That is, it passes intact through the digestive tract to the colon, where it serves as food for gut bacteria, i.e. a probiotic, and thus contributes to the development of a healthy colonic microflora. Up to hundreds of species of bacteria are present in the gut, only about 10 % of which derive their nutrients from the normal diet. When the bacteria digest resistant starch, they produce various compounds, including gases, short-chain fatty acids, and butyrate.
Super food for your metabolism and fast weight loss
When you eat resistant starch, it ends up in your colon, where it is digested by bacteria that convert it into short-chain fatty acids. The most important of these is butyrate. Butyrate serves as an energy source for the cells of the colon. Thus, resistant starch is not only a food source for friendly bacteria, but also for the intestine itself.
Positive effects of resistant starch on the colon and metabolism:
- Lowers pH, counteracts inflammation in the body and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide
- May help against the manifestations of inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, constipation, diverticulitis and diarrhea
- Short-chain fatty acids that are not used by the cells of the intestine travel further through the bloodstream to the liver and throughout the body
- Improvement of insulin sensitivity
- Lowering blood sugar levels
Benefits of eating resistant starch for fast weight loss
The effect of resistant starch on sugar and insulin metabolism is very remarkable. Some studies report a 33% to 50% increase in insulin sensitivity after four weeks of consuming 15-30 grams of resistant starches per day.
The importance of insulin sensitivity for weight loss and overall health cannot be emphasized enough. Low insulin sensitivity (resistance) is considered a major risk factor for several serious diseases, namely: metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, various heart and brain diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
By improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar, resistant starch helps fight chronic diseases and improves quality of life. It should be noted here that resistant starch is not some magic panacea, results vary on an individual level and depending on the dose and type of resistant starch.
Resistant starch contains fewer calories than regular starches – specifically 2 calories less per gram. The higher the resistant starch content of a food, the fewer calories it contains.
Dietary supplements containing soluble fibre have shown a positive effect on weight loss. Their primary function is to induce a feeling of fullness and reduce appetite. Resistant starch has the same effect. Adding resistant starch will make you feel fuller which in theory leads to a reduction in caloric intake.
Types for dieting
Several commonly consumed foods are rich in resistant starch. These include raw potatoes, cooked and cooled potatoes, green bananas, legumes, cashews and raw oatmeal. All of these foods contain high amounts of carbohydrates, so they are inappropriate if you are on a low-carbohydrate or keto diet.
However, resistant starch is also found in the form of dietary supplements that do not contain digestible sugars. For example, raw potato starch contains 8 grams of resistant starch in one tablespoon and almost no carbohydrates. Moreover, it is very cheap. It is tasteless and can be added to smoothies, for example.
Four tablespoons of potato starch should provide 32 grams of resistant starch.
It is necessary to let the body get used to resistant starch gradually, too large a dose can lead to flatulence and indigestion. There is no point in exceeding the recommended dose as all excess resistant starch is eliminated. It can take 2-4 weeks for the body to start producing increased amounts of short chain fatty acids and for you to notice the first positive changes, so you need to be patient.
9 foods high in resistant starch
- Oatmeal – 100g of cooked oatmeal contains 3.6 grams of resistant starch. Whole grain oatmeal is also rich in antioxidants. If you let your oatmeal cool, the resistant starch content will increase.
- Cooked and cooled rice – a popular method is to cook a large amount of rice for the week. Not only will this save you time, but it will also increase the resistant starch content. You should prefer brown and whole grain rice because of its higher fiber content. Brown rice is also rich in micronutrients such as phosphorus and magnesium.
- Other grains – There are many healthy grains that can replace wheat, which unfortunately gives them a bad reputation. These include sorghum and barley, foods rich in resistant starch. Whole grain options are a great addition to the diet. They are rich in fibre, plus they contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6 and selenium.
- Beans and legumes – they are very rich in resistant starch. Soaking beans and legumes and cooking them will get rid of lectins and antinutrients that cause bloating. There are about 1-5 g of resistant starch per 100 g of legumes. Great sources are:
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Soya beans
- Green peas
Fava beans are another great source, when roasted they provide 7-12g of resistant starch per 100g.
- Raw potato starch – potato starch looks like flour. It is one of the most concentrated sources of resistant starches. Up to 80% is made up of resistant starches. Because of this property, just 1-2 tablespoons a day is enough. It can be used to thicken up:
- Overnight oats
It is important not to heat the starch and to add it only to the finished dish.
- Boiled and cooled potatoes – similar to rice, you can boil larger quantities of potatoes and let them cool for at least a few hours. When completely cooled, potatoes contain a large amount of resistant starch. Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, resistant starches and micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin C. Do not heat potatoes and eat them in the form of salads, for example.
- Green bananas – both green and ripe bananas are a great source of carbohydrates containing other nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C and fiber. Green bananas are also a great source of resistant starch. As bananas ripen, the starch in bananas is converted into simpler, digestible forms of sugars:
For example, add unripe bananas to a smoothie.
- Hi-maize resistant starch – also referred to as hi-maize fibre or hi-maize flour. It is made from maize and, like potato starch, contains concentrated amounts of resistant starch. Approximately 40-60% of Hi-maize is made up of resistant starches, with the remainder being digestible starches. Hi-maize can be added to yoghurt, smoothies and porridge.
- Other cooked and cooled starch-containing foods – by cooking and then cooling, the proportion of resistant starches can be increased in all starch-containing foods. This applies to pasta, sweet potatoes, corn fritters, etc. It is best to let foods cool overnight. This way you can cook large quantities for the entire weekend and save time as well.