Resistant Starch: A Different Kind of Fiber

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Tuscan White Bean Soup from Home Run CookingHave you ever heard of resistant starch? Though starchy foods in general have a bad name, resistant starch actually has surprising health benefits. We outline those benefits, both in this post and in the free handout that we've attached as a grand finale...

What is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine,. The majority of carbohydrate absorption takes place in the small intestine. Resistant starch is digested along with other types of fiber in the large intestine, producing short-chain fatty acids, decreasing bowel pH, and decreasing bowel transit time. Resistant starch acts in similar ways as both insoluble and soluble fiber in that it’s fermented by bacteria naturally present in the large intestine. It even helps feed those healthy bacteria (1).

Where is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch comes in several forms. Seeds, legumes, under-ripe bananas, and unprocessed whole grains naturally contain resistant starch, as do cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, and chilled pasta. Food companies can even make resistant starch by chemically modifying other food starches. Hi-maize is a commercial resistant starch produced from high amylase corn (1).

Why Eat Resistant Starches?

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

  1. Resistant starch decreases inflammation, promoting healthy gut bacteria that may help treat inflammatory bowel disease and reduce your risk of colorectal cancer (2).
  2. It also improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which could help improve blood sugar control for people at risk of (or diagnosed with) Type 2 diabetes (3).
  3. Animal studies show reduced energy intake and improved weight loss with diets high in resistant starch (4).

Want some resistant starch cooking inspiration? Check out the recipes below...


  1. About Resistant Starch. Accessed 04/13/2014.
  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.

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CWC

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