Resistant Starches

Resistant Starches green banana.jpg

Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber that is naturally found in many carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, grains, and beans. This seems especially true when these foods are cooked and then cooled!  How does that work?  Well, for one thing, it flips the switch on hunger hormones.  It triggers a hormone response to shut off hunger, resulting in eating less! 

The name "Resistant Starch" indicates that the starch "resists" digestion in the body, as do other types of fiber, but resistant starch has a powerful impact on weight loss and overall health.  It increases your body's ability to burn fat, and, at the same time, fills you up and reduces overall hunger. Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, CDE, says that "Because it skips routine digestion, we see lower blood sugar and insulin levels following a resistant starch-rich meal".  It may fight diabetes and heart disease!

The difference between the 4 types of resistant starch comes from the amount of resistant starch in the food and how the food is/was prepared:

1.  Those found in grains, seeds, and legumes. These types resists digestion and are bound within the fibrous cell walls.

2.  Those found in some starchy foods, such as raw potatoes and green (unripened) bananas

3.  Those formed when particular starchy foods are first cooked, and then cooled. Foods that would fit into this group are potatoes and rice. The cooling of the food turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches through a process called "retrogradation.

4.  Those that are a man-made process, by way of chemistry sets.   

    In order to incorporate resistant starches into your diet, you can either eat them, or you can take them as supplements. Most of these resistant starch foods are going to be very high in carbohydrates, so they are not really in keeping with a lower carb diet.

Laura Korman, DC, DACBN, owner, Korman Relief & Wellness Center, offers the following suggestions:

  • Cold potato salad will resist raising the level of blood sugars after digestion.  Better than a hot potato. 

  • Banana should be eaten as green as possible to gain the resistant starches. A browner and sweeter banana has far more carbs and raises insulin levels after digestion.

  • Plantains - same as above

  • Pastas - cook and cool and, when ready to serve, gently bring up to 130 F. and serve with your sauce. This turns pasta into a resistant starch!

Remember!  In cooked, starchy foods, the resistant starch is created by the cooling of the food!  The cooking process alerts the starch to absorb water and swell. As it slowly cools, portions of this starch becomes crystallized into a form that resists being digested.  Cooling either at room temperature or in the refrigerator raises the resistant starch levels.  

The reason you don't want to reheat, however is because that would break up the crystals, causing resistant starch to diminish and drop their levels.

According to Dr. Korman, “The resistant starches in pasta and rice and bananas do not overcome the negative aspects of those foods, when it comes to weight loss, if that is your goal.”

Dr. Korman recommends eating cold potatoes, on occasion, in a small amount such as that of a serving of homemade potato salad.  Consider it a treat.