Discover the Starch/Carbohydrate that Makes Us Lean and Healthy - Part 3
Updated: Dec 26, 2021
Discover the starch/carbohydrate that helps us to lose and maintain body weight, lower blood sugar/glucose levels, and that is associated with a wide range of health benefits
You can read Part 1 of this article series in the reference below (1).
The possible health benefits of resistant starch
Resistant starch is associated with several changes in our metabolism with a wide range of health benefits such as: (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
1- It increases the acidity in the colon of the intestine, assisting in the digestion and absorption of nutrients from our diet
2- It has prebiotic properties that selectively stimulate beneficial bacterial species. Particularly, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
3- Ithelps control appetite, increasing the feeling of satiety
4- It protects us against fat storage and obesity
5- It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, and prevents diabetes
6- It reduces some risk factors for cardiovascular disease
7- It may reduce inflammation and symptoms of infectious antibiotic-associated diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
8- It has protective effects on preventing colon cancer
9- Itimproves the function of the intestinal barrier
10- It increases the production of bioproducts such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA)
11- It enhances the absorption of minerals such as calcium and iron
12- It improves and regulates the immune system
Types of resistant starch
There are four different types of resistant starchas follows: (7)
Resistant Starch 1 (AR-1) - Indigestible
The first type of resistant starch basically cannot be digested because it is attached to the plant cell walls. Then, it escapes the digestion in the small intestine because of its large particles. It is found in whole grains, seeds and legumes.
Resistant starch 2 (AR-2) - High amylose content
This second class of resistant starch is naturally occurring and can be found in foods such as raw potatoes, plantains and bananas when they are still green, in artichokes and lentils.
Foods with AR-2 are not eatable while they are raw. To become eatable, they must be cooked.
However, with the cooking process, the AR-2 foods undergo to changes in their molecules, transforming their resistant starch fiber into a regular starch.
In order to restore the resistant starch fibers in the AR-2 foods that were cooked, we must allow them to completely cool down before consumption.
Resistant Starch 3 (AR-3) - Also called retrograde starch
This type of resistant starch is produced after cooking types AR-1 and AR-2. Examples of AR-3 foods include parabolized rice, white rice, potatoes, unripe bananas and plantains, beans and lentils.
Likewise, in order to restore the resistant starch fiber in these foods, they must be cooked and cooled down completely before eaten.
After food is cooked and cooled, they can be reheated at temperatures lower than 130 degrees F - 60 degrees C, as from this temperature down, it continues preserving the resistant starch molecules in these foods.
Resistant Starch 4 (AR-4) - It is an artificial resistant starch
Created from chemical processes used by food manufacturers to improve starch characteristics to readily be soluble in water. These modifications create thickeners, stabilizers, binders and emulsifiers for food use.
As they are chemically modified, they are not recommended for human consumption. However, they are widely found in processed foods. An example here would be resistant high-maize starch (cornstarch).
Foods rich in resistant starch fiber include:
1- White rice
2- Potato starch from Bob's Red Mills brand (only this brand preserves the resistant starch molecules)
3- Organic green bananas flour
4- Organic green plantain flour
5- Potato and sweet potato
6- Unripe bananas and plantains – During the ripening process the resistant starch is transformed into a regular starch
7- Properly prepared lentils and beans (soaked to remove acids)
Important points to keep in mind:
1- The amount of resistant starch in foods change with the cooking process
2- Foods that are rich in resistant starch lose many of their resistant fiber during the cooking process
3- To restore the resistant starch fiber in these foods, they need to be cooked and completely cooled down before eaten
How can I add resistant starch into my diet?
There are two ways to add resistant starch into our diet – either from foods or supplements.
Resistant starch rich foods
An easy way to add foods rich in resistant starch fiber in our diet is to cook large batches of rice, potatoes, beans, lentils, green plantains or green bananas a day before and keep them in the refrigerator over the week.
Then, every day you can:
1- Reheat the portion you are about to eat at 130 Degrees F below. This temperature preserves the resistant starch fiber in these foods
2- Add cooked/cooled potatoes, lentils and green bananas/plantains to your salads and soups
3- Eat in every meal ¼ of a cooked/cooled green banana or plantain
4- Snack ¼ of a cooked/cooled green banana or plantain, with a little bit of raw honey, and cinnamon
5- Eat ½ of a cooked/cooled potato before bed (to help control blood sugar levels during the night)
6- Snack a portion of cooked/cooled rice, mixed with nuts, berries, and a little bit of honey
7- Add cooked/cooled unripe bananas into smoothies
Resistant starch rich supplements
In addition, you can supplement with resistant starch fiber using the following products:
1- Unmodified Potato Starch (only by Bob Red Mills brand)
2- Organic Green Banana/plantain flours
Supplement as follows:
1- Start with ½ flat teaspoon
2- Then, if you feel good, without undesirable symptoms, increase a little bit this amount every 3-4 days (time needed for the intestinal flora to adapt to this fiber)
1- Increase to 1 flat teaspoon
2- Then to 1 full teaspoon
3- 1 flat tablespoon
4- 1 full tablespoon
5- Continue adding until you are eating two full tablespoons of these flours to your daily diet
You can sprinkle these flours over your food or use them in smoothies or drink it with a little bit of water/juice. Also, remember if you heat these flours, they will lose their resistant starch fiber.
A diversified and varied diet
According to the American Gut Project, our diet should include at least 30 different types of plants per week.
In general, they claim that a diverse and varied a diet, packed with plants rich in fiber in various states of raw and cooked, provide our body a balanced gut microbiome/flora. Consequently, stronger and more balanced will be our health.
Also, in order to guarantee a balanced intestinal flora, we must diversify as much as possible the consumption of resistant starch supplements, by rotating the flours we are consuming. (8, 9)
Side effects of resistant starch
As we have seen, carbohydrates rich in resistant starch have many beneficial effects on our health. However, if your diet right now is lacking this kind of fiber and you want to increase their consumption, please, go slowly.
Keep in mind that resistant starch fiber changes the dynamics of our intestinal flora/microbiota. Then, in order to adapt our microbiome to this type of fiber/food and avoid unwanted side effects such as gas, bloating, etc. we must gradually introduce these foods in our diet
But, if you already have a gut problem, remember that fiber in general can exacerbate even more pre-existing symptoms. In this case, without a question, before you increase your fiber consumption please, look for professional guidance.
Stopping undesirable symptoms
If you increase consumption of either resistant starch foods or supplements, and start feeling undesirable digestive symptoms, immediately stop eating them, and look for professional guidance.
By stopping the consumption, symptoms will resolve
From the perspective of our health and well-being, regular consumption of resistant starch fiber is proven to help restore the health of our gut ecosystem.
Even though resistant starch fiber feeds and supports our gut flora/microbiota, its benefits are not limited to our gut.
In fact, it is associated with various changes in our metabolism, with a wide range of benefits to our overall health, including a great potential in both, preventing and treating obesity and its related diseases.
So, remember to include foods or supplements rich in resistant fiber in your daily diet.
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