Haven’t heard of “resistant starch”? You’re not alone! While most people have heard of soluble and insoluble fibers, we’re now learning that there are other properties related to these starches (such as viscosity and fermentability) that may be beneficial to our gut and overall health.
As their name suggests, resistant starches are starches that resist digestion in the small intestine. Essentially, they are the leftover starches that aren’t absorbed and make their way to the lower digestive tract, helping to feed our microbiota. There are actually four known classes of resistant starches:
- Type 1 is found in grains, seeds and legumes.
- Type 2 is found in some starchy foods, including raw potatoes and green (unripe) bananas.
- Type 3 is formed when certain starchy foods, including potatoes and rice, are cooked and then cooled. Other Sources include bread and tortillas.
- Type 4 is man-made and formed via a chemical process.
In my opinion, legumes are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Raw, dried legumes contain about 20-30% resistant starch by weight meaning almost half of the starch in raw legumes is resistant to digestion. That’s great new for us and our bacteria!
What are the benefits of including resistant starch in our diet?
- Healthy Gut
- Like other fibers, resistant starches serve as prebiotic food for our gut bacteria, helping to make beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s), vitamins such as B12 and vitamin K. And unlike other sources of fiber, resistant starch is more slowly digested making it less likely to produce uncomfortable gas.
- Weight Control
- Fiber is frequently recommended because it help control appetite and improve satiety. Foods containing resistant starches also may aid in weight control because they’re less calorically dense. And, as resistant starches are fermented in the lower digestive tract, some of the calories are lost.
- Glycemic and Insulin Control
- Resistant starch escapes digestion in the small intestine, so it doesn’t contribute to blood glucose levels. Some studies also suggest that resistant starch can reduce insulin resistance.
How much resistant starch should we eat?
While we don’t have an exact number, some experts suggest aiming for 15-20 gm per day. Here’s a list of foods to try and include more often:
Resistant Starch (g)
|Underripe banana, 1 medium||4.7|
|Rolled oats, 1/4 cup, uncooked||4.4|
|Oats, 1 cup, cooked||0.5|
|Pearl barley, 1/2 cup, cooked||1.9|
|White beans, 1 cup, cooked||7.4|
|Lentils, 1/2 cup, cooked||3.4|
|Pumpernickel bread, 1 ounce||1.3|
|Cooled, cooked potato (100 gm)||6.0|
|Kidney beans – 1 cup||10 gm|
So, as you can see, including beans and legumes as part of your regular diet will make reaching these recommendations much easier!