Most of the carbs you consume, such as those in grains, pasta, and potatoes, are starches. Some types of starch are resistant to digestion, hence the term resistant starch. However, only a few foods contain high amounts of resistant starch. Furthermore, the resistant starch in foods is often destroyed during cooking.
Why is resistant starch good for you?
Resistant starch functions similarly to soluble, fermentable fiber. It helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut and increases the production of short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate.
Short-chain fatty acids play a key role in gastrointestinal health. For instance, some research indicates that they help prevent and treat colon cancer.
Studies have shown that resistant starch can help with weight loss and benefit heart health. It can also improve blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity, and digestive health.
Interestingly, the way you prepare starch-containing foods affects their starch content, as cooking or heating destroys most resistant starches.
However, you can recapture the resistant starch content of some foods by letting them cool after cooking.
Below are 9 foods that contain high amounts of resistant starch.
Oats are one of the most convenient ways to add resistant starch to your diet.
Three-and-a-half ounces (100 grams) of cooked oatmeal flakes may contain around 3.6 grams of resistant starch. Oats, a whole grain, are also high in antioxidants.
Letting your cooked oats cool for several hours — or overnight — could increase the resistant starch even more.
Oats are a good source of resistant starch, providing around 3.6 grams per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked oatmeal flakes.
2. Cooked and cooled rice
Rice is another low cost and convenient way to add resistant starch to your diet.
One popular preparation method is to cook large batches for the entire week.
Not only does this save time, but the resistant starch content is also increased when the rice is left to cool over time.
Brown rice may be preferable to white rice due to its higher fiber content. Brown rice also provides more micronutrients, such as phosphorus and magnesium.
Rice is a good source of resistant starch, especially when it’s left to cool after cooking.
3. Some other grains
Several healthy grains, such as sorghum and barley, provide high amounts of resistant starch.
Although grains are sometimes mistakenly believed to be unhealthy, natural whole grains can be a sensible addition to your diet.
Not only are they a great source of fiber, but they also contain important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6 and selenium.
Natural whole grains can be excellent sources of dietary fiber and resistant starch, along with various other nutrients.
4. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes provide large amounts of fiber and resistant starch. Both should be soaked and fully heated to remove lectins and other antinutrients. Beans or legumes contain around 1–5 grams of resistant starch per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) after they’ve been cooked.
- Good sources include:
- pinto beans
- black beans
- garden peas
Fava beans are an excellent source of resistant starch. When deep fried or roasted, they provide 7.72–12.7 grams of resistant starch per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
Beans or legumes are excellent sources of fiber and resistant starch. Most types may provide around 1–5 grams of resistant starch per serving.
5. Raw potato starch
Potato starch is a white powder that looks similar to regular flour. It’s one of the most concentrated sources of resistant starch, with about 80% of the starches in it being resistant.
For this reason, you only need 1–2 tablespoons per day. Potato starch is often used as a thickener or added to:
- overnight oats
It’s important to not heat the potato starch. Instead, prepare the meal and then add the potato starch once the dish has cooled. A lot of people use raw potato starch as a supplement in order to boost the resistant starch content of their diet.
Potato starch is the most condensed form of resistant starch available. Try adding 1–2 tablespoons per day into yogurt or smoothies.
6. Cooked and cooled potatoes
If prepared correctly and left to cool, potatoes are a good source of resistant starch.
It’s best to cook them in bulk and allow them to cool for at least a few hours. When fully cooled, cooked potatoes will contain significant amounts of resistant starch.
In addition to being a good source of carbs and resistant starch, potatoes contain nutrients such as potassium and vitamin C.
Remember not to reheat the potatoes. Instead, eat them cold as part of homemade potato salads or other similar dishes.
Cooking potatoes and then allowing them to cool significantly increases their resistant starch content.
7. Green bananas
Green bananas are another excellent source of resistant starch.
Additionally, both green and yellow bananas are a healthy form of carbs and provide other nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, and fiber.
As bananas ripen, the resistant starch transforms into simple sugars such as:
Therefore, you should aim to buy green bananas and eat them within a couple of days if you want to maximize your resistant starch intake.
Green bananas are high in resistant starch, which gets replaced with simple sugars as the banana ripens.
8. Hi-maize resistant starch
Hi-maize resistant starch is also referred to as hi-maize fiber or hi-maize flour. It’s made from corn.
Like potato starch, hi-maize resistant starch is a very condensed form of resistant starch. It can be easily added to yogurt or oatmeal.
Most commercial varieties of this product may be composed of 40–60% resistant starch. The remainder is mostly digestible starch.
Hi-maize resistant starch is made from corn and is a highly concentrated source of resistant starch. Try adding a tablespoon to your meals or snacks such as yogurt.
9. Other cooked and cooled starchy carbs
Cooking and cooling other starches will increase their resistant starch content. As with the food sources discussed above, it’s best to heat them and then allow them to cool overnight.
This can be applied to most of the food sources discussed in this article (such as rice and potatoes) as well as pasta, sweet potatoes, and corn tortillas.
One time-saving technique is to prepare a large batch of pasta, rice, or potatoes over the weekend, then cool them and eat them with vegetables and proteins for complete meals during the week.
Cooking and cooling starchy foods will increase their resistant starch content. This is true of foods already high in resistant starch as well as foods like pasta, sweet potatoes, and corn tortillas.
Resistant starch is a unique type of starch with impressive health benefits.
There’s no formal recommendation for the intake of resistant starch.
Study participants typically received 10–60 grams per day. Health benefits were observed with a daily intake of at least 20 grams, but an intake as high as 45 grams per day was also considered safe.
Many Americans get about 5 grams each day, some Europeans may get 3–6 grams, and daily intake for Australians ranges from 3–9 grams.
On the other hand, the average daily intake for Chinese people is almost 15 grams. Some rural South Africans may get 38 grams of resistant starch per day, according to a small study.
Get more resistant starch in your diet by consuming foods high in the nutrient or by cooking other starchy foods and letting them cool before eating them.