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What is resistant starch? An overview of its astonishing health benefits

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Resistant starch is a kind of nutrient which promotes weight loss, boosts digestion, and prevents diseases. According to the National Institute Of Health, it is defined as a portion of starch that cannot be digested by amylases in the small intestine and travels to the colon to be fermented by microbiota. They help to enhance insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar levels, etc. The difference between normal starch and resistant starch is that normal starches are broken down into glucose which is absorbed and used by the body whereas resistant starch cannot be broken down but is turned into short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria.


What is resistant starch?

Types of Resistant Starch

Type 1: It is found in legumes and grains and resists digestion as it is bound within the fibrous cell walls

Type 2: It is found in starchy foods such as raw potatoes, and green bananas. It is resistant to digestion due to starch granule structure.

Type 3: It is created when starchy foods are cooked and cooled which converts digestible starches into resistant starches. It is present in cooked and cooled rice and potatoes.

Type 4: It is man-made and created by a chemical process. It is found in a wide range of processed foods.


Weight loss

Advantages of Resistant Starch

Helps with weight loss

Resistant starches contain fewer calories than regular starch. As resistant starches are difficult to digest, your body will utilize more energy to break them down which can contribute to weight loss by increasing satiety ( feeling of fullness) and minimizing appetite. Resistant starch is fermented when it reaches the large intestine which creates beneficial fatty acids called butyrate which can inhibit the body's ability to burn carbohydrates. This can prevent the liver to use carbohydrates as fuel and fats burned as mentioned by Dr. Janine Higgins, nutrition research director at the University of Colorado. Eating resistant starch is associated with decreased abdominal fat.

Gut Health

Helps promote gut health

Since resistant starch ferments in your large intestine, good bacteria are produced thus enhancing your overall gut health. A higher number of good bacteria will result in decreased cholesterol levels and digestive issues. Resistant starch as a prebiotic improves intestinal function.


Insulin Sensitivity

Enhances insulin sensitivity

Resistant starch plays an important role in improving the ability of the body to respond to insulin. When you consume highly sugary foods, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream is elevated which restricts your body's ability to utilize insulin effectively. Hence, eating plenty of resistant starch have shown to promote insulin sensitivity. The greater your insulin sensitivity, the more effectively your body utilizes insulin and reduces blood sugar after meals. This can prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. According to the National Library of Medicine, it was found that overweight men who consumed 15 to 30 grams of resistant starch had increased insulin sensitivity.

Immune system

Improves your immune system

Resistant starch may enhance the growth of probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that plays an important role in fighting off diseases says Dr. Joanne Slavin, a nutrition professor at University of Minnesota.




Improved mineral absorption

Animal studies have shown that eating resistant starch is associated with a positive effect on intestinal magnesium absorption.


May reduce cancer

According to research by the universities of Newcastle and Leeds, unripened bananas contain more resistant starch and may prevent certain cancers. It showed that a regular dose of resistant starch, consumed for an average of two years, did not affect cancers in the bowel but did decrease cancers in other parts of the body by more than half. The effect was particularly noticeable for upper gastrointestinal cancers, including esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, and duodenum cancers, which can especially be difficult to detect.


Foods rich in resistant starch

Oats

Raw potatoes

White beans

Legumes

Lentils

Brown rice


Interesting fact:

Cooking and then cooling raises resistant starch in foods. For example: If you want to raise the amount of starch in your oatmeal, it is better to consume it after cooking and cooling it in the fridge. It will contain higher resistant starch.

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Final Verdict

Resistant starch is an essential part of a healthy digestive system. Consuming about 15 to 30 grams of resistant starch can protect the body against inflammation and help improve insulin sensitivity.

Prebiotics: fibers that are not digestible by your body but can aid healthy bacteria in your gut.

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