Resistant starches, a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine, have emerged as a nutritional powerhouse with a host of health benefits. Unlike typical starches, they behave more like dietary fiber and have a number of effects on the body.
What Are Resistant Starches?
Resistant starches are a unique form of carbohydrate that pass through the digestive system largely intact. They're classified into four types:
1. RS1: Physically inaccessible starches found in whole or partially milled grains and seeds.
2. RS2: Found in raw or unripe fruits, legumes, and some starchy vegetables like green bananas and raw potatoes.
3. RS3: Created through a process like cooking and then cooling starchy foods like potatoes, rice, or beans.
4. RS4: Chemically modified starches, often used in processed foods.
Where Can I Find Them?
- Green Bananas and Raw Potatoes: These are excellent sources of RS2. As these foods ripen or are cooked, the resistant starch content decreases.
- Legumes: Lentils, beans, and chickpeas are rich in resistant starches. These are versatile ingredients that can be included in various dishes.
- Whole Grains: Brown rice, barley, and whole grain bread contain RS1, especially if they're not finely milled.
- Cooked and Cooled Foods: Cooking and then cooling starchy foods, like rice or potatoes, can significantly increase their resistant starch content.
How do Resistant Starch Impact my Health?
- Improved Digestive Health: Resistant starches act as prebiotics, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. This promotes a healthy gut microbiome, aiding digestion and supporting a robust immune system.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Resistant starches have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a slow and steady impact on blood sugar levels. This can help manage insulin sensitivity.
- Weight Management: They may increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite, potentially leading to reduced calorie intake. This can be a valuable tool for weight control.
- Heart Health: Resistant starches have been shown to lower levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in rats. This, combined with their potential to improve blood sugar control may help protect the health of your heart.
Incorporating resistant starches into your diet is a simple yet effective way to boost your overall health. By choosing whole, minimally processed foods and experimenting with cooking and cooling techniques, you can maximize the benefits of these remarkable carbohydrates. Remember, a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key to reaping the full spectrum of health advantages that resistant starches offer.
How can I learn more or get access to healthy foods?
The Wellness League Search Tool helps you find free and low cost programs in your community to learn more about healthy eating or find a food pantry. On the search page, simply enter your zip code and the resource you’re looking to find like “nutrition education” or “food pantry”.