Bananas, Potatoes, and Resistant Starch Ho,Ho!!

Resistant starch is gaining momentum in health circles. With its potential promise in improving gut health, lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, and maintaining normal blood sugar levels, more and more people are wondering what it is all about.

Resistant starch is called that because it resists digestion. Instead it ferments in the colon as the friendly bacteria there feed off of it producing the short chain fatty acids that help improve our health. If you are new to the idea of resistant starch you may be wondering where it’s found and the answer would be that it is found in many of the starchy foods we eat, foods like potatoes, legumes, and bananas.

There’s a catch though. Eating a pile of piping hot mashed potatoes or having a smoothie made with a ripe banana to add sweetness will not boost your resistant starch and rather than help improve your blood sugar levels, it will actually have the opposite effect and send blood sugars soaring. So what’s the deal?

resistant starchThe deal is that when you cook foods containing resistant starch, heat converts the starch into amylose which is digested by the body and is absorbed into the blood as glucose. Thus, to eat foods with resistant starch, you need to eat potatoes raw, or you need to eat green bananas, as examples. If you cook your potatoes and then stick them in the refrigerator and let them get cold, some of the starch returns to its state of resistance, but not all of it.

Many people seek to get around the issue of eating raw potatoes, which has the highest amount of resistant starch, by adding a tablespoon of potato starch to a glass of water and drinking it. That may cause some flatulence, so many people start out with less than a tablespoon and work their way up. As an alternative, or in addition to that, you can also purchase green banana flour which adds resistant starch and can be added to baked products or cereals.

As you seek to boost your resistant starch, you may want to increase the amount of naturally fermented foods you eat to increase the friendly bacteria in your gut which will feed on the resistant starch. These might include pickled foods not pickled with vinegar. You can also eat legumes that have soaked for two or three days in purified water (and not just overnight) before cooking them which will cause enough fermentation to increase the friendly bacteria without changing the taste or causing harm. And remember, legumes also have resistant starch.

Feeling adventurous and ready to try a new approach to maintaining normal blood sugar levels? Then resistant starch might be what you are looking for and an easy diet modification to test out.