What Is Resistant Starch and Is it a Weight Loss Superfood?
For decades it has been thought that foods rich in carbohydrates cause weight gain. However, new research indicates that not all carbs are bad. Studies show that some carb-rich foods not only shrink belly fat cells and boost fat burning, but also increase muscle mass, curb hunger, keep one satiated, regulate blood sugar, and lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
There is a type of carbohydrate called "resistant starch" that offers all these benefits and more.
What is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is starch that is not broken down and digested in the small intestine but passes into the large intestine. In this respect, it is more like fiber. Resistant starch is, in fact, considered the third type of dietary fiber, after insoluble and soluble fiber.
It is a very beneficial nutrient that has healthcare professionals talking about it. Although resistant starch is not a commonly used and familiar term, it offers various health benefits.
In the colon, resistant starch is used as a fuel by the resident bacteria, by the process called fermentation, in which short chain fatty acids are produced. It is these short chain fatty acids that provide many health benefits.
There are 4 types of resistant starch (RS) that have been identified on the basis of its structure or source.
- RS1 - This type of RS is not digestible because it is inaccessible for the digestive process like in whole grains, legumes and seeds because of the intact cell walls/fibrous shell.
- RS2 - This type of RS is present in its natural form in foods like unripe bananas, raw potatoes, plantains, high amylose corn etc. This starch is resistant to breakage by our digestive enzymes.
- RS3 - This type of RS is formed when starchy foods like potatoes,rice, legumes, cornflakes, etc are cooked and cooled before consumption.
- RS4 - This is the modified/manufactured RS that is so processed to resist digestion.
Most starchy foods have some amount of RS in them.
Resistant starch is considered a dietary fiber when naturally present in food and a functional fiber when it is added to foods. Total fiber includes both dietary fiber and functional fiber.
Some very important benefits of resistant starch are:
- Weight Control
Adding resistant starch increases the fiber content of foods. This has a negative effect on weight gain and obesity. The likely benefits are reduced hunger pangs due to increasing feeling of satiety and possible alteration in enzyme secretions that affect the digestion of food.
RS is also thought to burn fat and cause its reduction and consequently, accumulation. It also helps to increase the metabolism of fatty acids within the fatty tissue thus again reducing fat storage. By increasing metabolism, it further prevents weight gain.
RS can be incorporated to replace high calories foods like flour and other carbohydrates that are quickly digested thus reducing the fat content of foods.
- Managing Blood Sugar Levels
Consuming foods rich in RS decreases the glycemic response in both healthy and diabetic individuals.
RS also increases sensitivity to insulin in healthy, those with type 2 diabetes as well as insulin resistant persons.
When pregnant ladies consume RS rich foods it increased the glycemic health of the offspring. RS also prevented the development of insulin resistance.
RS rich foods help to maintain a healthier colon and overall a healthier digestive system as it allows the beneficial bacterial to proliferate thereby reducing the population of harmful bacteria. Resistant starch also helps to lower the intestinal pH and makes the bowel movements regular by improving the intestinal matter bulk.
Natural resistant starch also helps to keep the colon healthy, protects against colo-rectal cancer by the production of short chain fatty acids protective compounds like butyrate in particular, as well as acetate and propionate.
- Kidney Health
RS maintains the health of kidneys by reducing blood urea levels as it causes increased excretion of nitrogen.
- Other Benefits
- RS benefits eye health, improves calcium and magnesium absorption thereby strengthening the bones and those with ulcerative colitis.
- It reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- RS improves the brain function and health in aging individuals by not only improving appetite and increasing food intake but also improving the motor coordination in the aged.
Foods Rich in Resistant Starch
Superfoods are foods that are not only nutritional powerhouses and prevent chronic diseases, improve eyesight, build bones, improve brain function but also help one to stay slim by preventing weight gain. These foods are also rich in resistant starch.
- 1/2 cup of cooked plantains contains 3 grams of resistant starch which boosts metabolism and burns fat.
- Quinoa is a whole grain that's not only rich in protein but that keeps one's hunger satiated with few calories. Contains 1 gram of resistant starch in 1/2 cup cooked quinoa.
- Pearl Barley is a low calorie grain with appetite-filling fiber. It provides almost 2 grams of resistant starch in a half cup serving.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
- Chickpeas contain over 2 grams of resistant starch in a 1/2 cup serving. Also a good source of healthy fats, fiber and protein.
- A half cup of white beans provides almost 4 grams of fat-burning resistant starch and is also rich in fiber.
- Pine nuts contain heart healthy fats that burn belly fat.
- Potatoes are a source of resistant starch that burn body fat and though high in calories they are very filling and offer a lot of satiety. Contain 0.6-0.8 grams of resistant starch in 1/2 cup of cooked/mashed potatoes.
- Oranges are low in calories but quite filling because of the fiber in them and helps control one's hunger thus aiding in weight loss.
- Dark chocolate contains medium chain unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which are considered healthy fats and which boost metabolism and burn fat. It also helps to slow digestion and keeps on full longer, thus reducing food intake.
- Bananas are not only filling but boost metabolism as well. Also they are extremely high in resistant starch as a single somewhat green banana offers 12.5 grams of resistant starch. Even a ripe banana has almost 5 grams of resistant starch.
- Apart from the filling fiber and protein, a 1/2 cup serving of lentils provides 3.4 grams of resistant starch that boosts metabolism and burns fat.
- The antioxidants in green tea burn fat and calories. Studies have found that consuming 5 cups of green tea a day reduces as much as twice the weight from the belly.
- Kidney beans not only contain over 5 grams of fiber per serving of half a cup but are also rich in resistant starch at almost 2 grams per serving.
- A compound in grapefruit lowers insulin, the fat storing hormone thereby inducing weight loss. It is also filling as it contains 90% water. Eating half a grapefruit before every meal will aid in losing up to a pound in weight a week.
- Red wine contains resveratrol, the antioxidant that prevents the storage of fat. Red wine boosts metabolism and drinking a moderate amount of red wine leads to lower belly fat and narrower waists than in liquor drinkers.
- Brown rice is packed with fiber and a 1/2 cup contains 1.7 grams of resistant starch. It is also low in calories and energy but a dense food and is quite filling.
- Salmon is rich in MUFAs and protein minus the fat. Study has found that those who ate a MUFA rich diet lost more weight while those on a low fat diet in fact gained weight.
- Though avocados are rich in fat, it is of the right kind, the oleic acid is a healthy mono unsaturated fat. However be careful that you do not overeat. Stick to half an avocado. It is also rich in protein and fiber and along with MUFAs will aid in reducing belly fat and control weight.
- Oats are not only rich in fiber but also in resistant starch with a half cup serving providing 4.6 grams of it and this helps in boosting metabolism and burning fat.
Resistant Starch Content in Foods
Resistant Starch in grams
Serving Size (Cup)
Bananas, slightly green
Potatoes and Yams
1 slice (100 gm)
1 Tbsp (9.5gm)
Recommended Daily Values
The recommended daily values of dietary fiber includes the resistant starch component. This includes the value both for well being and disease prevention.
A value of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women has been established for the daily fiber intake according to the National Academy of Science, in the U.S.
According to prevention.com it has been found that the average American consumes about 4 grams of resistant starch. Experts however suggest consuming around 8 grams of resistant starch per day.
A corn product called Hi maize can be used to replace about 1/4th of the normal flour to reap the benefits of resistant starch. Better still is to eat 1/2 to 1 cup of cooled resistant starch rich foods per day.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or healthcare provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Superfoods that Promote Weight Loss and Optimal Health
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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