Health Benefits

Photo of resistant starch-rich foods by Judith Meskill

Over the past twenty years, more than 100 human clinical studies have been published on the health effects of resistant starch. Resistant starch occurs naturally in many uncooked/unprocessed grains, intact whole grains, underripe bananas, beans and pulses, and cooked and cooled starchy foods (like potato salad, and the rice in sushi).

Here’s the thing – researchers have to isolate and study individual variable and focused effects. This is how research gets done, but it is a piecemeal way of looking at nutrition and health. One study will focus on insulin sensitivity while the next one will focus on intestinal fermentation.  Only when you look at the holistic body of evidence, do you see that they’re connected. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture to see the ah-ha impact!

Resistant starch impacts many functions within the body. Each study examines one single function or a narrow collection of biomarkers. When you look at the collective body of evidence and see that everything works together to benefit health in overlapping, complementary ways, resistant starch starts to look like a nutritional superstar!

Resistant starch is called resistant starch because it is a starch that resists digestion and reaches the large intestine. It is used as food by the bacteria and other organisms that reside in the intestines, (the gut microbiome), which sets off a cascade of health effects.  After eating resistant starch, these bacteria and organisms produce short-chain fatty acids within the gut, which are used as signals and triggers throughout the entire body, may be consumed as energy, and also activate hundreds of genes within the body.

After eating resistant starch, studies have shown that people have:

  1. Improved digestive function – reduced constipation, cessation of diarrhea, and normalization of regularity
  2. Improved blood sugar management – increased insulin sensitivity, reduced insulin levels, reduced glycemic and insulin response of foods
  3. Improved weight control – increased satiety, reduced hunger and other shifts in metabolism to help in weight management
  4. Emerging benefits –  improved kidney health, reduced inflammation, blood pressure and eye health.

Whether you’re trying to develop a new food or supplement or you’re trying to improve your diet, resistant starch is worth investigating.