Nutrition & Recipes

A Simple Guide To Resistant Starch 

September 12, 2023

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What if I told you rice and potatoes are actually healthy for you?

Okay, okay. First, pick your jaw up off the floor, and then get strapped in before I blow your mind. 🤯

It’s true. The world of nutrition is  ever-evolving, and resistant starch has gained significant attention in recent years. It’s a unique carb, and has been studied extensively, revealing multiple health benefits that extend beyond our regularly thought of dietary fibers. 

In this post, we will explore the positive impact of resistant starch on health, delve into relevant research findings, discuss its effect on blood sugar levels, identify rich food sources, and offer insights into who should consider incorporating resistant starch into their diets.

Ready to dig in? 

What the heck is resistant starch?

Resistant starch is a type of starch that, as the name suggests, resists digestion in the small intestine. Instead of being broken down and absorbed like regular starches, it travels intact to the colon, where it can have numerous beneficial effects. 

There’s four main types of resistant starch, each with distinct properties and dietary sources:

Resistant Starch 1: Physically Resistant Starch: Found in whole or partially milled grains, seeds, and legumes, RS1 is resistant due to the starch’s physical structure.

Resistant Starch 2: Granular Resistant Starch: Present in raw potatoes, green bananas, and high-amylose cornstarch, RS2 has a granular structure that resists digestion.

Resistant Starch 3: Retrograded Starch: Created through cooking and cooling processes, RS3 can be found in cooked and then cooled potatoes, rice, and pasta.

Resistant Starch 4: Chemically Modified Starch: This type is synthesized to be resistant to digestion and is often used in food processing as an additive.

Health Benefits Of Resistant Starch

Improved Digestive Health

One of the most significant advantages of consuming resistant starch is its positive impact on digestive – gut health. As it reaches the colon undigested, it serves as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, which play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut lining, reducing inflammation, and enhancing overall digestive function [1].

Weight Management

Resistant starch may aid in weight management due to its ability to increase feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake. It slows down the digestion of other nutrients, promoting a longer-lasting sense of satisfaction after a meal [2].

Blood Sugar Control

Resistant starch has a remarkable impact on blood sugar levels. When consumed, it leads to a slower and more gradual rise in blood glucose, reducing the risk of insulin spikes. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage their blood sugar levels [3]. Hint – everyone should be doing this. 😉

Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity

Research suggests that regular consumption of resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity. Enhanced insulin sensitivity may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and help manage the condition in those already diagnosed [4].

Lower Cholesterol Levels

Some studies indicate that resistant starch may contribute to reduced cholesterol levels, especially LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. By binding to cholesterol in the gut and promoting its excretion, resistant starch may support cardiovascular health [5].

The Scientific Research Behind Resistant Starch

Numerous research studies have investigated the potential health benefits of resistant starch. Here are some notable findings:

Gut Microbiota

A study published in the journal “Nature Communications” found that a diet rich in resistant starch led to an increase in the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria, promoting gut health [6].

Blood Sugar Control

Research published in the “Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism” demonstrated that resistant starch can significantly reduce post-meal blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, making it a valuable dietary component for diabetes management [7].

Weight Management

A randomized controlled trial published in “Obesity” showed that incorporating resistant starch into the diet led to greater weight loss and reductions in waist circumference compared to a control group [8].

Cholesterol Reduction

A meta-analysis of clinical trials, published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” concluded that resistant starch consumption was associated with lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels [9].

Resistant Starch And Blood Sugar Levels

The relationship between resistant starch and blood sugar levels is especially interesting when it comes to the topic of diabetes  and those simply looking to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. Resistant starch can have several positive effects on blood sugar control:

Slow Glucose Release

Resistant starch has a low glycemic index (GI), which means it releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually. This slow release helps prevent rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, promoting sustained energy and reducing the risk of insulin resistance [10].

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

As previously mentioned, resistant starch can enhance insulin sensitivity. This is crucial for individuals with diabetes, as it allows cells to use insulin more effectively to regulate blood sugar levels [11].

Increased Satiety

Consuming foods rich in resistant starch can increase feelings of fullness, leading to reduced overall calorie intake and better blood sugar management [12].

Food Sources Of Resistant Starch

Incorporating resistant starch into your diet is relatively straightforward, as it can be found in a variety of foods. Here’s some common sources:

Unripe Bananas

Green bananas are an excellent source of RS2 resistant starch. They can be sliced and added to smoothies or used in savory dishes as a starchy component.


Beans, lentils, and peas are rich in resistant starch (RS1). Include them in soups, salads, and side dishes for a fiber and protein boost.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like oats, barley, and brown rice contain RS1 resistant starch. They can be enjoyed as a base for various meals, from breakfast porridge to grain bowls.


Resistant starch is present in both raw and cooked, then cooled, potatoes. Enjoy potato salads or refrigerate cooked potatoes for a cold, resistant starch-rich side dish.

High-Amylose Cornstarch

High-amylose cornstarch is a concentrated source of RS2 resistant starch. It can be added to recipes as a thickening agent or included in smoothies.

Who Should Consider Resistant Starch and Who Should Avoid It?

While resistant starch offers numerous health benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Here’s a brief overview of who should consider incorporating resistant starch into their diets and who should exercise caution:

Who Should Consider Resistant Starch:

  • Individuals with diabetes or prediabetes: Resistant starch can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Those looking to manage their weight: The satiating effect of resistant starch can aid in controlling calorie intake and supporting weight loss efforts.
  • Individuals with digestive issues: Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, promoting a healthy gut microbiome and potentially alleviating digestive discomfort.

Who Should Exercise Caution:

  • People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Some individuals with IBS may be sensitive to certain types of resistant starch, which can exacerbate symptoms. It’s advisable to introduce it gradually and monitor its effects.
  • Those with allergies or sensitivities: If you have allergies or sensitivities to specific foods that are rich in resistant starch, be mindful of potential adverse reactions.

Resistant starch is an amazing dietary component with a wide range of health benefits, including improved digestive health, weight management, blood sugar control, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol levels. Supported by extensive research, its potential to optimize various aspects of health makes it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.

Including foods such as unripe bananas, legumes, whole grains, and potatoes in your meals can help you enjoy the benefits of resistant starch. However, it’s essential to be mindful of individual sensitivities and dietary preferences when incorporating these foods into your diet.

As with any dietary changes, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant adjustments to your eating habits. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific health goals and needs, ensuring that you make informed choices that promote your overall well-being.

By adding in resistant starch, you can take proactive steps towards achieving a healthier, more balanced lifestyle and reaping the numerous rewards it offers for your well-being.

Here’s to cold potatoes! 


  • Hamaker, B. R., & Tuncil, Y. E. (2014). A perspective on the complexity of dietary fiber structures and their potential effect on the gut microbiota. Journal of Molecular Biology, 426(23), 3838–3850.
  • Higgins, J. A. (2014). Resistant starch and energy balance: Impact on weight loss and maintenance. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 54(9), 1158–1166.
  • Jenkins, D. J. A., et al. (1982). Dietary fibers, fiber analogs, and glucose tolerance: Importance of viscosity. British Medical Journal, 285(6343), 1392–1394.
  • Robertson, M. D., et al. (2003). Insulin-sensitizing effects of dietary resistant starch and effects on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77(3), 537–544.
  • Maki, K. C., & Pelkman, C. L. (2012). Resistant starch in type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 31(5), 320–332.
  • Deehan, E. C., et al. (2017). Resistant starches types 2 and 4 have differential effects on the composition of the fecal microbiota in human subjects. PLoS ONE, 12(10), e0170634.
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  • Higgins, J. A., et al. (2004). Resistant starch consumption promotes lipid oxidation. Nutrition & Metabolism, 1(1), 1–8.
  • Huang, T., et al. (2019). Effect of potato consumption on blood lipids: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 110(5), 1192–1201.
  • Englyst, H. N., et al. (1982). The dietary fiber content and the influence of fiber on the apparent digestibility of starch and protein in breadfruit. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 35(5), 1032–1039.
  • Behall, K. M., et al. (1987). Effect of soluble fibers on plasma lipids, glucose tolerance, and mineral balance. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 270, 77–88.
  • Keogh, J. B., et al. (2007). Effects of meals with high soluble fibre, high amylose barley variant on glucose, insulin, satiety and thermic effect of food in healthy lean women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 61(5), 597–604.
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