Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Eating Resistant Starch, Un-sexy but Healthy


I wish I had some magic super food that we could all eat to reduce our waistlines, decrease our blood sugar and improve our cholesterol.  Something along the lines of a luscious chocolate torte or a mouth watering piece of blueberry pie.

Fat chance.

BUT! What you can do is eat “resistant starch.” And yes, you will need to over come your resistance to eating these decidedly un-sexy foods.  What is a resistant starch and why is potentially helpful?  Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is not easily digested by the body, and provides tasty fodder for the bacteria that live in your large intestine.  The theory is that since the starch is not easily digested, the bacteria break it down into stuff like butyrate. (Like you care about the name.) Anyway, butyrate and it’s cousins may aid the gut’s cells in regulating insulin.  (This is theoretical, and a very short version.) Studies have shown that resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity, decrease waist lines and improve cholesterol profiles. (Click here and here and here for studies.)

Resistant starch falls in to the category of may be helpful, and can’t hurt ya’. Therefore, it’s on to my list of things to eat if you are trying to decrease your risk of diabetes and high cholesterol.  I have a strong family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and “pre-diabetes.” So I am willing to eat resistant starch.

What foods have resistant starch, and how much of this “super food” do you need to eat?  The studies differed in men and women.  Men could see benefits with eating 15 grams per day, while women had to eat 30 grams per day. For women, the studies showed most improvement in post menopausal women.

And (drum roll)…The foods with most amount of resistant starch are:

  • Black beans: a half cup includes 8 grams of resistant starch
  • Pinto beans: a half cup includes 8 grams of resistant starch
  • Slightly green bananas: one small includes 8 grams of resistant starch.  (Blech, I hate green bananas!)
  • Yams: 1/2 cup includes 4 grams resistant starch.

    Beans, beans the magical fruit...

    Beans, beans the magical fruit…

Other foods with smaller amounts included barley, brown rice and corn (1/2 cup with 3 grams of resistant starch each) but to me, the amount is too small to be beneficial.  As a female I would have to eat 5 cups of brown rice to get 30 grams.  That is not realistic, and the calorie count from 5 cups of brown rice would be around 1000 Kcal!

It all boils down to this: eat lots of fruits and vegetables with high fiber content. By the way, I don’t know if using beano or something like that would reduce the effectiveness of eating the bean super food. I couldn’t find info to clarify this.

Sorry it’s no sexier than that!



Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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