Starchy Foods and Resistant Starch: Are They Beneficial for Your Health?

February 2, 2021 , , , ,

Did you know that certain starchy foods like potatoes and pasta can be beneficial to your health by promoting weight loss, improving blood glucose control and lowering cholesterol? Yes, you read it right! But it’s not just any starchy foods, it’s specifically those that contain resistant starch.

What are resistant starch?

Starch is a complex plant-derived sugar that forms the carbohydrate reserves of plants. It is a mixture of two polysaccharides, amylose, and amylopectin, whose proportions vary according to the type of food. Starches are found in starchy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, legumes and also certain fruits. Depending on the rate of digestion, starch breaks down into three different types: fast-digesting starch, slow-digesting starch and resistant starch. Fast-digesting starch causes an immediate increase in blood sugar levels after its consumption, whereas slow-digesting starch is digested more slowly in the small intestine and therefore does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Resistant starch is not digested in the intestine. It is a type of dietary fiber that is soluble and highly fermentable. Thus, because resistant starch is not digested and absorbed into the small intestine, it is able to reach the colon, where it is fermented by intestinal bacteria, and produces short-chain fatty acids which can offer a range of health benefits. It can therefore be classified as a prebiotic. The ability of starch to resist digestion depends in part on its ratio of amylose and amylopectin, with amylose being digested more slowly. The resistant starch content in food is also strongly influenced by their preparation and processing techniques. Some resistant starch are naturally found in certain foods such as corn, some legumes, unground seeds, whole grains, uncooked oatmeal, green bananas, as well as potatoes, rice and pasta that has been cooked and then cooled. Other resistant starch are manufactured synthetically by industry and added to foods as an ingredient to lower their caloric intake and improve their textural and organoleptic characteristics while also increasing their dietary fiber content. It should be noted that although resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber, it is generally not listed on the nutritional labels of foods.

Health benefits of resistant starches

The consumption of resistant starch can have a positive impact on a variety of chronic diseases including intestinal and cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes. When resistant starch is fermented by the bacteria in the colon, it produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, which is partly responsible for its health benefits.

Gastrointestinal health

Butyrate that is produced by the fermentation of resistant starch promotes the absorption of water and sodium, which helps improve stool consistency. It can also increase blood flow to the colon, reduce inflammation, and promote the regeneration of the lining of the intestine. Butyrate is currently the subject of much research for its potential benefits in the prevention of colorectal cancer and for people with inflammatory bowel disease.


Resistant starch is a promising type of fiber for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes and its complications. According to some meta-analyses, the consumption of resistant starch can help reduce fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels as well as improve insulin sensitivity, especially in people with diabetes who are overweight or obese.

Cardiovascular disease

Studies in rats and humans indicate that a chronic consumption of resistant starch can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Weight loss

Studies in rats suggest that consuming resistant starch may increase satiety, promote fat loss and prevent fat build-up. However, while the potential positive effects in humans are promising, they are not well-known. According to a recent meta-analysis including 11 studies, the effects of resistant starch consumption on obesity remains controversial and more long-term studies in humans are needed.

It should be noted that that consuming resistant starch may be more beneficial for some individuals than others. It has been suggested that differences in the microbiota of each individual could play an important role in determining the effects of the consumption of resistant starch on their health. In addition, there are different types of resistant starch, the effects of which may vary depending on the type.

How much resistant starches should be consumed?

Dietary fiber requirements vary between 25 and 40g depending on one’s age and gender. It is recommended that you consume a variety of different types of dietary fiber, including resistant starches. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not consume enough fiber and would greatly benefit from increasing their consumption.

Here are some recipe ideas to help you increase your intake of resistant starch:

Shrimp, Eggs, and Potato Salad

Shrimp, Eggs, and Potato Salad


  • Liu et al. (2020) Health beneficial effects of resistant starch on diabetes and obesity via regulation of gut microbiota: a review. Food Funct; 11:5749-67.
  • Wang et al. (2019) Effects of the resistant starch on glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and lipid parameters in overweight or obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr. Diabetes; 9(1):19.
  • Gao et al. (2019) Resistant starch ameliorated insulin resistant in patients of type 2 diabetes with obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lipids in health and disease;18:205.
  • Higgins (2004) Resistant Starch: Metabolic Effects and Potential Health Benefits. Journal of AOAC International; 87(3):761-68.
  • Guo, Tan and Kong (2020) Impact of dietary intake of resistant starch on obesity and associated metabolic profiles in human: a systematic review of the literature. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (sous presse).
  • Meenu and Xu (2015) A critical review on anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects of dietary resistant starch J Sci Food Agric; 95(10):1968-78.
  • De Martino and Cockburn (2020) Resistant starch: impact on the gut microbiome and health. Current Opinion in Biotechnology; 61:66–71.
  • Raigond, Ezekiel and Raigond (2015) Resistant starch in food: a review. J Sci Food Agric; 95: 1968-78.
  • Government of Canada (2019). Fibre.
  • McKinney (2020) Resistant Starch : Why You Need More of This ‘’good’’ Carb. The Source By Life Time;


Kathryn Adel
Kathryn holds a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition as well as a Bachelor and a Master Degree in Kinesiology, all from Laval University. She is a Registered Dietitian and active member of the Ordre professionnel des Diététistes Nutritionnistes du Québec (ODNQ) and of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds the Monash University's certification for the FODMAP diet and IBS, and has considerable clinical experience in that area. She is also an accomplished athlete, having ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health.

3 comments to “Starchy Foods and Resistant Starch: Are They Beneficial for Your Health?”

February 10, 2021 Colette Corbin said:

Thank you. Good info.

February 18, 2021 joana souza said:

Kathryin, muito obrigada!
Sou brasileira de São Paulo, e gostaria de mais informações sobre a dieta Baixo Foodmap.

Pierre Lamontagne
February 18, 2021 Pierre Lamontagne said:

Olá Joana, tudo bem?

Sou co-fundador e sócio do site e falo português 😉

A dieta com baixo teor de FODMAPs, descoberta na Austrália em 2005 e baseada em abundante evidência científica, é prescrita cada vez mais às pessoas que sofrem da Síndrome do Intestino Irritável (SII) – cerca de 25% da população brasileira. Sua eficácia, estimada em mais de 70% pela Federação Brasileira de Gastroenterologia, é muito maior do que quaisquer tratamentos farmacêuticos. O fato de os sintomas diminuirem em apenas 1-2 semanas, aumenta a motivação para continuar e leva os pacientes a recomendar a dieta a outrem.

Há indícios de que essa dieta possa tornar-se o novo sem glúten. De fato, vários estudos mostram que para muitas das pessoas que se sentem melhor após eliminarem o glúten, na realidade, essa melhoria é devida à eliminação dos frutanos (um dos FODMAPs) presentes junto ao glúten em vários alimentos.

A dieta é constituida de uma fase inicial de eliminação dos alimentos com alto teor de FODMAPs, seguida por uma fase de testes de reintrodução, de acordo com um protocolo preciso, para identificar quais FODMAPs causam os sintomas.

Nós, da, somos especializados nessa dieta Fodmap e já ajudamos milhares de pessoas a se livrarem dos sintomas da SII. O nosso site é disponível em inglês, francês e italiano. Se você consegue ler um desses idiomas, podemos te ajudar diretamente, e com o maior prazer. Se você precisar de um atendimento em português, o que posso fazer é te indicar os nomes de duas nutricionistas especializadas em Fodmap em São Paulo capital. No caso, é só me escrever (pode ser em português) aqui mesmo no site, clicando o link ‘Contact’ no rodapé de qualquer página, e me informando seu email.

Abraços. Pierre

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website uses cookies to give the best user experience, monitor the site performance, offer social networks features, or display advertisements. By clicking "ACCEPT", you consent to the use of cookies in accordance to our privacy policy.