Resistant starch is a boon to health. One of my most popular posts is about resistant starches. Today I go into a bit more detail and share a delicious recipe. And for an even newer post about resistant starch, check out The Fiber You Need to Know.
I never bought into the crazy idea that starches make us fat or cause diabetes. After all, there’s a pretty big difference between a wholesome potato and a buttery croissant. And there’s a fourfold difference between a small 5-ounce potato and the jumbo 20-ounce spud I recently weighed in the supermarket. I occasionally buy those monster potatoes, but I split them three ways. And there’s also a big difference among types of starches. Resistant starch is a health-boosting type of fiber. Cooked and cooled potatoes have it. I love knowing that my healthy potato salad has resistant starch.
What is Resistant Starch?
Some starches are more readily digested than others. Those that slip through the small intestine without being degraded are called resistant starches – since they are resistant to digestion. Since you don’t digest them, their glucose molecules don’t get absorbed into your bloodstream. Instead resistant starch serves as food for the bacteria in your colon.Fewer calories, lower blood sugar and 4 other health benefits of resistant starchesClick To Tweet
6 Health Benefits of Resistant Starch
- Some calories don’t get used. Since resistant starch escapes digestion, you don’t get all of the calories available in a food.
- Some glucose doesn’t contribute to blood sugar levels. Likewise, since the starch isn’t digested, the glucose isn’t available to add to blood sugar levels.
- Your healthy bacteria thrive. Resistant starch is good food for the good bacteria in your gut. When they thrive, they make less room for the unhealthy bacteria. The good ones have lots of jobs, so let’s feed them well. Here’s a few things your healthy bacteria do on your behalf.
- Produce vitamins
- Detoxify cancer-causing compounds
- Activate cancer-fighting compounds
- Activate other health-boosting compounds in various foods
- Your colon cells are protected. When those good bacteria ferment the resistant starch, they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs fuel the colon cells and many even increase the death rate of unhealthy colon cells. And that helps shield you from colon cancer.
- You might be less insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a hallmark of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. SCFAs can help your body use insulin better.
- You might not get so hungry. There are LOTS of types of fibers. Some – but definitely not all – help control appetite. Resistant starches seem to increase satiety, so you last longer after a meal or snack before getting hungry again.
Check out The Fiber You Need to Know for more about resistant starch and a great visual of some foods that have it.
Which Foods Have Resistant Starch?
You can see here that the best sources are beans and other legumes, some whole grains and under-ripe bananas. Uncooked oats (as in muesli) is a good source, but cooked oats is not. Cooked oats is still a nutrient-dense food, however, so enjoy it often. Cooked and cooled starches like cold potatoes, pasta and rice are also sources of resistant starch, but I cannot find a reference to quantify the amounts. I think you’ll like my healthy potato salad recipe below even more knowing it has resistant starch.Cold potatoes have resistant starch. So do these foods.Click To Tweet
|FOOD||RESISTANT STARCH (g)|
|Under-ripe banana, 1 medium||4.7|
|Rolled oats, ¼ cup, uncooked||4.4|
|Oats, 1 cup, cooked||0.5|
|Pearl barley, ½ cup cooked||1.9|
|White beans, 1 cup cooked||7.4|
|Lentils, ½ cup cooked||3.4|
|Pumpernickel bread, 1 ounce||1.3|
|Pita bread, white, 2 ounces||1.1|
|Whole-wheat bread, 1 ounce||0.3|
- 1½ pounds red-skinned potatoes, cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 4 ounces snow peas, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1¼ cups)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 scallions, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the water bubbles gently. Cook until the potatoes are nearly at desired tenderness, about 10 minutes. Just before the potatoes reach the desired tenderness, drop the snow peas into the pot and cook for 30-60 seconds. The snow peas should still have a bit of crunch. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- While the potatoes are cooking, whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard together.
- Once the potatoes and snow peas are well drained, put them in a large bowl with the scallions, bell pepper and parsley. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and vegetables and mix gently. Chill well before serving.
Delicious, nutritious potato salad with health-boosting resistant starchClick To Tweet