Health and Wellness: Resistant Starch

When you look at a food label, do you feel like that the math doesn’t add up? Let’s look at the label above on the right. The label says there are 37 grams of carbohydrates. 4 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugars. That adds up to 16 grams. So what carbohydrate makes up the remainder of 21 grams that is not included on the food label? The answer is Starch.

Starch is a complex carbohydrate used by plants to store energy. By photosynthesis, plants make glucose. To store this energy or glucose, plants chemically join hundreds of individual glucose molecules together and form starch. So all plant products contain varying amounts of starch. Starch comes in 3 varieties, rapidly digested starch, slowly digested starch and resistant starch.

On today’s blog we’ll focus on resistant starch. There are 5 types of resistant starch, but we’ll just discuss just 2 types. Resistant starch I(RS1) and Resistant starch III(RS3). RS1 is located in the endosperm of grains and seeds. when grains and seeds are consumed in their whole form, RS1 remains resistant to digestion. RS3 also called retrograded starch forms when foods high in starch such as potatoes and rice, are cooked and then cooled. These foods can then be reheated up to 170 degrees without losing their resistant starch properties.

The amazing health benefits of resistant starch can not be overstated. Since RS can’t be digested in the small intestine, it gives a feeling of satiety but only contributes to portion of the calories listed on the nutrition label. Furthermore, it does not give a sugar spike and consequently no insulin spike, and in fact has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

Resistant starch instead passes into the large intestine, where it serves as food for the beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria use this as fuel(similar to soluble fiber) and produce short chain fatty acids which keep the cells lining the colon healthy.

Amongst these fatty acids is butyrate which has shown to decrease inflammation, help in maintenance of an effective gut barrier and inhibit formation of colon cancer. Additionally, butyrate has been shown to reduce cholesterol, decrease insulin resistance. and reduce incidence of ischemic stroke.

Foods rich in resistant starch include oats, cooked and cooled rice, whole grains, beans, legumes, roots, seeds, cooked and cooled potatoes, and green bananas.

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