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The Lowdown on Resistant Starch

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Fiber may get all the healthy-digestion credit, but it's not the only carbohydrate that boosts your health. In fact, eating resistant starch, an under-appreciated carbohydrate, gives you a lot of the same benefits as eating a diet high in fiber—plus, it's super easy to add more to your diet. In fact, if you're a fan of leftovers, you're probably already getting some. 

What it is: Simply put, resistant starch is a carbohydrate your body can’t digest. It behaves a lot like fiber, helping food move through your system, says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., University of Maine food science professor.

Why you need to know about it: Like fiber, resistant starch helps control blood sugar and keeps you regular. It also acts as a prebiotic, nourishing healthy gut microbes. Those bacteria then produce a type of fatty acid that may protect against cancer.

Where to find it: Leftovers! Rice and potatoes lose their resistant starch when you cook them, but if you cool them after cooking, some of the starch converts back to a resistant form. In addition to cooked and cooled rice, pasta, and potatoes, you’ll find it in plantains, beans, legumes, and lentils. (See more 7 Foods You Never Knew Were Loaded with Carbs.)

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