If you haven’t already heard about resistant starch, you likely will very soon because it’s on its way to becoming a major nutrition buzzword (or buzzphrase).
Chances are you’re already eating foods that contain it. And chances are, you might feel slightly guilty and/or “bad” about it if you’re trying to lose weight.
That’s because it involves eating carbs.
But resistant starch isn’t bad for you at all. In fact, it’s pretty awesome.
That’s because foods high in resistance starch (or RS) – including rice and potatoes that have been cooked and then cooled off – contain a certain type of fiber that resists digestion.
- Boosts your ability to burn fat
- Keeps you feeling full
- Reduces your hunger
- Helps keep blood sugar under control
- May help lower cholesterol
- Boosts immunity
- And has promise when it comes to fighting disease
What are starches? They are complex carbohydrates, which are composed of molecules of several sugars bonded together.
Starches are made up of two kinds of polysaccharides: amylopectin and amylose.
Amylopectin’s structure is highly branched, which gives it lots of surface area. That means it’s more digestible and broken down quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar, followed by another spike in insulin, which is what your body uses to shuttle that sugar to your cells to be used for energy.
That rise and fall in your blood sugar can leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after you eat.
But amylose is built differently: it’s a straight chain, which means it has less overall surface area. As a result, it’s digested more slowly, causing less of a chance that your blood sugar will quickly rise and then fall.
And amylose is the kind of polysaccharide that is generally found in foods high in resistant starch.
Resistant Starch Digestion
When you eat foods high in RS, your small intestine can’t absorb it. That means the RS travels to your large intestine, where it’s fermented by your intestinal bacteria so it can be broken down. That longer transit time helps keep you feeling fuller, longer.
There are four types of RS:
- Type 1, which physically resists digestion because of its strong outer coating. Your digestive enzymes can’t break it down. This includes legumes, some grains, and some seeds.
- Type 2, which contain resistant granules that aren’t easily digested. This kind is found in raw white potatoes, unmodified potato starch (uncooked), green under-ripe bananas, uncooked plantains, and uncooked banana flour.
- Type 3, which is “retrograded.” That’s because it includes foods that have been cooked and cooled, changing the structure of the starch itself. It’s in white rice (the highest amount is in parboiled and basmati), white potatoes, legumes, and pasta made from potatoes or rice. Even if the starches are reheated again after being cooled, the resistant starch remains intact and, in some cases, might even multiply.
- Type 4, which is man-made RS and is found in processed foods or in “high-maize” supplements. Because it’s a processed food, I’m not a fan.
Here’s a fun fact: you know when it comes to calories, carbs have 4 calories per gram? Well, resistant starch – because we can’t completely digest it – has only about 2 calories per gram.
Don’t Overdo It
As you might guess, because it’s hard for our bodies to digest RS, eating too much can lead to unpleasant consequences. That’s why it’s a good idea to begin adding it to your diet slowly to see how you react.
Also, we all react differently to some kinds of resistant starch. For instance, eating type 1 RS (like legumes) can have different effect on your body than type 3 (liked cooked and cooled potatoes). And those effects might be completely different for you than they are for someone else.
Experts recommend topping out at about 30 to 40 grams of resistant starch total, preferably from whole foods. (Here’s a great article outlining why you should think about avoiding RS supplements.)
Want more info about RS? I’ve got some helpful links below.
6 Recipes Containing Resistant Starch
I try to get some resistant starch in my diet every day. My usual go-tos are with legumes or uncooked oats (see the muesli recipe below for one tip). But there are plenty of other ways to incorporate it into your diet.
1. Whole30 Potato Salad
Who doesn’t love potato salad? And thanks to the cooked-then-cooled potatoes it contains, it’s filled with RS.
But if you’re going to have traditional potato salad that means using mayonnaise, which often is filled with questionable fats.
Good news: this recipe contains a healthy homemade mayo that’s made entirely of whole ingredients: egg, olive oil, salt, and your choice of apple cider vinegar, lemon, or lime.
I’d personally go with organic natural apple cider vinegar like Braggs because it is filled with healthy probiotics.
Check out the recipe at Tastes of Lizzy T
2. German Potato Salad
Do you prefer mayo-free potato salad? Maybe you don’t like mayo, or maybe you just don’t want to make it from scratch.
Either way, this is a super-delicious traditional-ish German version that contains BACON.
Check out the recipe at Bravo for Paleo
3. Healthy Slow Cooker Cassoulet
This healthier version of the French classic contains plenty of RS-filled legumes. And if you opt for white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, your leftovers will contain even more resistant starch. (Since this is my own recipe, I can attest that it’s super tasty either way.)
Check out the recipe at Wendy Fitness
4. Orchard Bircher Muesli
Bircher muesli is basically a Swiss version of raw “overnight” oats, but it was designed to be eaten as a light evening meal.
The original recipe included apples, nuts, raw oats, and cream and honey, but this version uses cherries. You obviously can use any fruit you want. I happen to like using frozen fruits in mine to save money.
Because the whole rolled oats aren’t coked, it preserves the resistant starches.
(Note: here’s the tip I hinted at above. Unrelated to this recipe, I’ve been known to toss 1/8 cup of rolled oats into my salads or other veggies, and douse them balsamic vinegar. Sounds gross, but they add a nice nuttiness and you don’t even notice they’re in there).
Check out the recipe here: Happy Hearted Kitchen
5. Green Banana Smoothie
This smoothie from Dr. Oz includes green, unripe bananas. Now, this recipe would personally not keep me feeling full for very long as it is pretty high in carbs, so I would add some plant-based protein powder to it.
Check out the recipe here: Dr. Oz
6. Very Veggie Fried Rice
The trick to this recipe is to precook your rice and let it cool, as that changes the structure of the starches in the rice to RS.
There already are some resistant starches in the corn (maize) and the peas (legumes). So this is a winner!
Also: if you have leftovers, even better! Because reheating the rice AGAIN might add even more resistant starches.
Check out the recipe here: Cooking Classy
More Info on Resistant Starch
Want more of the nitty-gritty when it comes to resistant starches and why they’re good for you? Here are some great places to start.
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