If you’ve never heard of resistant starches, you’re probably not alone. But if you’ve never heard of resistant starches and you’re diabetic, take notice.
In December of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration approved the claim that resistant starches may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. After 21 years of research, the FDA acknowledged resistant starch’s role in improving insulin sensitivity.
Resistant starch gets its name from the fact that it is indigestible: it passes through the digestive system unchanged. Unlike regular starches, resistant starches are not broken down in the digestive process. They are not converted to glucose like most other starches; instead, they pass through the stomach and small intestine and are consumed by the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that resistant starch causes the body to be more efficient at moving glucose from the bloodstream to muscles and tissues. Resistant starches improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin, with studies showing a 33-50% improvement in insulin sensitivity after 4 weeks. Improved insulin sensitivity means that glucose is able to enter cells to be used as energy instead of remaining in the bloodstream. Alternatively, low insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, is associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious diseases.
There are five types of resistant starches:
- Type 1 occurs in seeds and legumes and resists digestion because it is surrounded by fibrous cell walls.
- Type 2 occurs in starchy foods like green (unripe) bananas and raw potatoes.
- Type 3 forms when certain starchy foods like potatoes and rice are cooked and then cooled, which turns digestible starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation.
- Types 4 and 5 are man-made in a lab.
It is possible for several types of resistant starch to co-exist in the same food, and the amount of RS found in any food is greatly affected by its preparation. A ripe banana, for example, has fewer resistant starches than a green one. Additionally, cooking can reduce the levels of resistant starch, although cooking and then cooling can restore the levels of RS.
It is important to note, too, that resistant starch can initially cause bloating, flatulence and other discomforts in people whose gut health is compromised. These responses most often occur in people who take resistant starch supplements rather than getting RS from food form, but they are an indicator that the gut needs work. Typically, users will need 20-30 grams of resistant starch daily, which is difficult to get from food, so supplements may be required. Adding probiotics to the diet and reducing the dose of RS can ease symptoms.
It is important to note, too, that resistant starch can aggravate existing digestive issues, so patients should consult a doctor before undertaking major dietary changes.
Other benefits of resistant starches are:
- Improves gut health because RS acts as a prebiotic
- Lowers blood sugar spikes associated with meals
- Reduces inflammation in the colon
- Reduces fasting blood sugar
- Lowers cholesterol
- Increases satiety, causing you to feel full sooner
- May result in weight loss since the body stores less glucose
Anecdotally, those experimenting with RS have also reported better quality sleep with more vivid dreams, enhanced energy and mood, improved body composition, reduced anxiety, and improved thyroid function.
Resistant starch occurs naturally in many foods but can also be added as a supplement to foods in the form of potato starch, plantain flour or green banana flour. The recipes we’ve included below will focus on natural RS rather than supplements. Be sure to note that cooking and then cooling can change the level of naturally-occurring RS, so make sure to follow all directions.
Rice and Bean Salad
Resistant Starch Potato Salad
Potato Salad with Green Beans and Asparagus
Garlic Kale and Brown Rice Salad with Lemon Dressing
Mexican Pasta Salad with Avocado Dressing
Slow Cooker Pinto Bean Stew
Very Veggie Fried Rice
Super Easy White Bean Salad
Plantain Fudge Brownies
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Fried Green Bananas
Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Muffins
Resistant Starch Green Smoothie
Black Bean + Tempeh Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce
Garlic Parmesan Zoodles
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Gnocchi
FDA DISCLAIMER: Because benfotiamine is a dietary supplement the FDA only requires manufacturers and distributors to have credible evidence as to its safety. The FDA itself has not evaluated benfotiamine for safety or effectiveness. Benfotiamine, therefore, cannot be represented to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information on this and related topics, please follow this link to FAQ’s on benfotiamine.org
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