Evidence Based
7

What Is Resistant Starch + Food Sources & Cooking Tips

Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD | Last updated:
Evguenia Alechine
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD | Last updated:

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.

We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.

All of our content is written by scientists and people with a strong science background.

Our science team is put through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don't let them write for us again.

Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]

Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

potatoes

Resistant starch might explain the great health in traditional cultures where high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes and rice are the staple. It feeds the gut probiotics, enabling them to produce nutrients, support immunity, and control inflammation. Learn the definition and types of resistant starch, food sources, and cooking tips to increase it in your diet.

Types of Starch

There are two types of starch based on their branching chemical structures: amylose and amylopectin.

Digestible vs. Resistant Starch

Starches are also categorized based on digestibility and glycemic index (the speed at which the starch increases blood sugar):

  • Rapidly digestible starch – causes a sudden increase in blood glucose level after ingestion. Rapidly digestible starch is found in white bread and sugary breakfast cereals
  • Slowly digestible starch – digests completely in the small intestine at a lower rate than rapidly digestible starch. Pasta, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread contain slowly digestible starch
  • Resistant starch – does not absorb in the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine

What Is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starches are the starches that are resistant to digestion in the small intestine. Therefore, they do not get absorbed in the small intestine but get fermented by the gut bacteria in the large intestine [1, 2, 3].

Resistant starches also don’t increase blood sugar like typical non-resistant (digestible) starches do. They have a low glycemic index, meaning a low impact on blood sugar levels [4, 5].

However, some whole food sources of resistant starch have a combination of resistant and non-resistant starches, so the actual glycemic index of these foods vary.

Undigested food feeds good bacteria in the colon that, in turn, produce butyrate and vitamin K2, support immunity, reduce inflammation, and more [6, 7].

Sources

There are five different types of resistant starch, as categorized by their sources:

  • RS Type 1 – Starch that is physically inaccessible to digestion because it is trapped in the fibrous cell walls of plants. It is found in coarsely-ground or whole cereal grains, seeds, and legumes (beans, nuts, peas, and lentils)
  • RS Type 2 – Non-gelatinized starch with high amylose content. Amylose is a type of starch with a linear structure, which makes it more easily packed into a structure that prevents digestion. RS Type 2 is indigestible when raw. It is found in starchy fruits (green bananas), raw vegetables (potatoes), and high-amylose starches (maize starch)
  • RS Type 3 – Retrograded starch that forms after type 1 or 2 are cooked and then cooled. Type 3 can be reheated at low temperatures to keep the starch from becoming digestible. RS Type 3 is found in bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Cooked potatoes and banana starches lose their resistance, but cooked high-amylose maize starch partially retains resistance to digestion [8]
  • RS Type 4 – Starch that has been chemically modified (esterified starches) to resist digestion. RS Type 4 is a chemically modified starch found in processed foods like bread and crackers. Examples are hi-maize starch, cross-linked starches, starch esters and ethers, and cyclodextrins [9, 8, 5]
  • RS Type 5 – Starch with amylopectin (a type of starch with non-linear, branching structure) that has been heated with oil and form a helical structure that makes it resistant to digestion [10]

All types of RS are beneficial for health, but they have different effects on your body [11].

For example, types 1, 2, and 4 may support blood sugar level control, while types 2 and 3 may help with weight control and fat metabolism [12, 8, 13].

Cooking Methods That Increase Type 3 Resistant Starch

1) Cooking and Cooling Carbs

When starch that is high in amylose is heated in water, the starch granules absorb water and swell up. After the cooked starch is cooled, the starch (amylose) molecules rearrange structures (crystalize) and become less digestible. This process is called retrogradation.

Cooked and cooled starchy foods with resistant starch may be reheated at low temperatures (below 175 °F) to maintain resistant starch content [14].

2) Baked and Chilled Potatoes vs Boiled Potatoes

Baking does not degrade the starch as much as boiling does. Chilled potatoes (40 °F ) have more resistant starch than hot or reheated potatoes (150 °F). The chilled potatoes have retrograded starch, which is less digestible than cooked starch [15].

3) Cooked and Cooled Rice

Steaming, pressure cooking, and stir-frying rice produce higher levels of resistant starch than boiling rice. Cooling the rice after increases the content of resistant starch [16, 17].

You can learn more about the “resistant starch diet” in this post.

Supplemental Sources of Resistant Starch

Besides consuming starchy fruits, vegetables, and foods listed above, there are additional sources of pure resistant starch available.

1) Raw Potato Starch

Raw potato starch has by far the highest content of resistant starch and the lowest glycemic index. Corn has the next highest content of resistant starch, followed by tapioca, wheat, and rice [4].

2) Hi-Maize

Hi-maize is a high-amylose resistant starch that has been treated with heat and moisture to significantly increase its resistant starch content [8].

If you’re sensitive to plant-based starches, Hi-maize is a good hypoallergenic alternative. It does not come from a nightshade plant and the processing destroys most plant-based immune stimulants. However, those with a corn allergy may want to avoid it.

Hi-maize has a uniquely high amount of resistant starch (50%) and dietary fiber. One serving (11 grams) contains up to 7 grams of dietary fiber. Unlike other natural sources of resistant starch, Hi-maize has a high gelatinization temperature that ensures its ability to survive and remain resistant through most normal food processing conditions [18, 19].

Hi-maize is used in a variety of processed foods, including low-fat snacks, high-fiber bread, noodles, pasta, breakfast cereal, and gluten-free products [20].

Where to Buy

Keep reading: Health Benefits of Resistant Starch: Metabolism, Autoimmunity, Inflammation, and more.

Also, check out the Lectin Avoidance Diet Cookbook if you have many food sensitivities but would like to take advantage of the health benefits of resistant starch.

This section contains sponsored links, which means that we may receive a small percentage of profit from your purchase, while the price remains the same to you. The proceeds from your purchase support our research and work. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Aleksa Ristic

Aleksa Ristic

MS (Pharmacy)
Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets. 
Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

Click here to subscribe

RATE THIS ARTICLE

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.