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Resistant Starch: What you need to know

Resistant starch has been gaining in popularity lately and for good reason. In today’s post we are telling you everything you need to know about them and why you should include them in your diet. This article is contributed by Melissa Latini, nutrition student at Ryerson University.


Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is made of long chains of glucose (sugar molecules) and is one of the main forms of carbohydrates in our diets. Starch comes from plant-foods such as potatoes, grains, beans, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, corn and peas. These foods also contain fibre, which is the component of food that our body doesn’t digest or absorb (unlike protein, fat and digestible carbs) but has many health benefits such as helping to lower cholesterol and easing constipation.


Resistant starch can be classified as a type of fibre; it can’t be digested or “resists” digestion by the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine. As the starch ferments, it becomes a prebiotic : it feeds the good bacteria in our gut in order to maintain a healthy balance between them and the bad bacterias (we all have some good and some not-so-good bacteria in our gut). The fermentation process also produces short-chain fatty acids which help fuel the cells in our colon and can be beneficial for our gut health. More and more research is suggesting that a healthy gut plays a role in our overall physical and mental health.

Benefits

Some of the health benefits of adding resistant starches to your diet include:

  1. Helps control blood sugar levels

  2. Helps to keep you feeling full and may help with weight management

  3. Improved bowel health and may help reduce risk of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease

  4. Increased absorption of micronutrients

  5. Help improve cholesterol levels


Foods that are High in Resistant Starch

There are many foods that have resistant starch and the amount of resistant starch in the food can change depending on how the food is cooked or prepared. Some foods high in resistant starch include:

  • Whole grains such as oats and barley

  • Seeds

  • Beans and legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils (white beans and lentils are highest in resistant starch)

  • Cooked and cooled rice, pasta and potatoes. These foods can be heated up again once cooled with no damage to the resistant starch

  • Plantains and green bananas (as a banana gets ripe, the starch becomes more digestible)


How to Include Resistant Starches in your diet


There are lots of ways to include resistant starches in your diet and you probably already have many of these foods in your kitchen pantry or can find them easily at the grocery store.

  • Instead of buying white bread, try to purchase whole grain bread. Whole grain breads with seeds are also a good option.

  • Try overnight oats! Uncooked oats are a better source of resistant starch than cooked oats.

  • Make extra pasta, rice and potatoes. Reheating these foods after cooling increases the amount of resistant starch and can save you time in the kitchen. You can even repurpose them for variety. For example, you can add leftover brown rice from a stir-fry one night to a whole grain tortilla with some salsa, cheese, beans and have a burrito the next day.

  • Feeling creative? Try using green banana flour, this gluten-free flour is high in resistant starch but if you bake with it, the resistant starch disappears (due to the high temperature). You can add a teaspoon or two into a smoothie or an energy bite recipe, it has a mild flavour. You can find this flour at a health food store or buy it online.

Many foods high in resistant starch are also high in fibre so when adding them into your diet, be sure to do it slowly and drink plenty of water to help prevent digestive discomforts.


We hope you enjoyed today’s post!


Christina and Melissa




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