Resistant Starch: A Different Type of Fiber

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Resistant Starch

Starchy foods in general have a bad name, but resistant starch is bucking the trend. Why? Well, because it has tons of health benefits!

Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine. That’s where the majority of carbohydrate absorption takes place. This starch is digested in the large intestine with other kinds of fiber. It produces short-chain fatty acids, decreases bowel pH, and decreases bowel transit time.

Resistant starch acts like both insoluble and soluble fiber because it’s fermented by “good” bacteria that are naturally-present in the large intestine. It also helps feed those bacteria.

Research over the past 20 years identifies three potential health benefits of resistant starch:

  1. It decreases inflammation and promotes healthy gut bacteria that may help treat inflammatory bowel disease while reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
  2. It can also improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. This in turn could help improve blood sugar control for people at risk of, or diagnosed with, type 2 diabetes.
  3. Reduced energy intake and weight loss are also possible side effects of diets that are high in resistant starch.

The average intake of resistant starch found naturally in foods is about 5 grams (g) per day. You get the health benefits when you consume15-20 g per day, and research shows that up to 45 g per day can be well-tolerated.

Resistant starch that is added to foods has no taste and doesn’t change the texture of the food. Because it’s digested very slowly, it also typically doesn’t have the side effects that are often associated with other fiber supplements. No bloating or gas here!

As we learn more about the health benefits of resistant starch, it makes sense to include foods naturally high in resistant starch in our everyday food choices as well as experiment with commercially-produced forms of this important type of fiber.

By Lynn Grieger RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC

References

  1. About Resistant Starch. http://www.resistantstarch.com/ResistantStarch/About+RS/ Accessed 11/9/2013.
  2. Resistant Starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer. Higgins JA, Brown IL. Curr Opin Gastroenteroo. 2013 Mar;29(2):190-4.
  3. Role of Fructans and Resistant Starch in Diabetes Care. Maziarz M. Diabetes Spectrum February 2013 vol. 26 no. 1;35-39.
  4. Dietary resistant starch dose-dependently reduces adiposity in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant male rats. Belobrajdic DP, King RA, Christophersen CT, Bird AR. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Oct 25;9(1):93.
  5. Double Resistant Starch Intake, National Starch Food Innovation.
  6. http://www.resistantstarch.com/NR/rdonlyres/DE2ADBB0-FF7D-40A7-B409-03493FEFFDFA/4601/Foodswithresistantstarch_LR.pdf Accessed 11-12-13.
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