You may have heard the word resistant starch get thrown around when it comes to our gut health. Adding resistant starch to your diet is a great way to support a healthy gut microbiome. However, if you don’t know what resistant starch is or what food it’s in, you’re in luck. Today we are here to tell you all about resistant starch, and where to find it!
What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is a type of starch, or carbohydrate, in the food we eat, but it’s not digested in the stomach or small intestine. This means instead of being broken down into simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream, the resistant starch passes through to our large intestine. Because resistant starch isn’t broken down, it acts in a similar way to fibre and plays an important role in our gut health.
Why is it the #1 nutrient when it comes to gut health?
Resistant starch plays an important role in our gut health by passing through to the large intestine and acting as a fuel for our gut microbes. Providing fuel for our gut microbes helps them to grow and increase in numbers. This can help to improve the health of our gut microbiome and as a result improve our overall health and wellbeing. Check out our article on the ins and outs of the gut microbiome to find out more!
When resistant starch is broken down by our gut microbes, a compound called butyrate is produced. This is a type of short chain fatty acid which is important to keep the cells of the digestive tract healthy. Compounds like butyrate have been shown to play a role in reducing our risk of digestive cancers. Not only is resistant starch good for the cells in our digestive tract, it has also been shown to improve insulin resistance and reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
What foods are high in resistant starch?
Some foods that are high in resistant starch include:
- Legumes such as lentils and chickpeas
- Rye and Barley
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Unripe bananas or green banana flower
- Certain types of Starchy foods such as bread and pasta
- Nuts and some seeds
Fun fact: cooking and then cooling starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes increases the resistant starch content of these foods.
How to add it to your diet?
Adding resistant starch to your diet is not only great for your gut health but it’s also really simple to do. Our favourite ways to increase resistant starch in our diet are:
- Cooking extra rice/pasta or potatoes and popping them in the fridge to add to lunch or dinner the next day
- Eat plenty of wholegrain foods such as oats, wholegrain pasta and multi-grain breads
- Overnight oats
- Snack on nuts and seeds
- Top your salads or oats with nuts and seeds
- Add more legumes to your meals such as adding red kidney beans to your burrito bowl mince
- Make pancakes using green banana flower
Fun fact: Overnight oats are higher in resistant starch than if you were to make them into hot porridge in the morning. Try adding some overnight oats into your breakfast repertoire to increase your intake of resistant starch.
Side-effects of resistant starch
Resistant starch acts in a similar way to fibre in our digestive tract. Therefore, if you drastically increase your intake in a short amount of time you may experience some unwanted side-effects. This can include gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas and bloating. The best way to minimise these unwanted side effects is to increase your intake slowly and be sure to drink plenty of water during the process.
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CSIRO. 2020. Resistant Starch Facts – CSIRO. [online] Available at: <https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Health/Nutrition-science/Nutrition-facts/Resistant-starch> [Accessed 24 April 2020].
Yang, X., Darko, K.O., Huang, Y., He, C., Yang, H., He, S., Li, J., Li, J., Hocher, B. and Yin, Y., 2017. Resistant starch regulates gut microbiota: structure, biochemistry and cell signalling. Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, 42(1), pp.306-318.