Resistant Starch Foods – What They Are and How to Eat More of Them

resistant starchJanuary is traditionally the month of healthy eating, when people tend to jump on food and diet trends in an attempt to boost their nutritional intake and (often) lose weight.

Resistant starch foods appears to be the catchphrase of the day – their appeal is the promise they will keep you feeling fuller longer because they take longer to digest. Feeling satiated for a longer time can potentially keep you from getting hungry and overeating, and will enable you to keep your energy level up until your next meal or snack. Resistant starch foods include whole grain bread, bananas, legumes such as navy beans, potatoes, lentils, oatmeal and barley – whole foods that are great additions to a healthy diet anyway. And of course, we all want to hear those 5 magic words: “bread is good for you.” Nutritionists are claiming it to be so – bread has its benefits, especially those made with whole grains and ingredients like nuts and seeds.

Wikipedia defines resistant starch (RS) as: “starch and starch degradation products that escape digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. Resistant starch is considered the third type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.

Some carbohydrates, such as sugars and most starch, are rapidly digested and absorbed as glucose into the body through the small intestine and subsequently used for short-term energy needs or stored. Resistant starch, on the other hand, resists digestion and passes through to the large intestine where it acts like dietary fiber.”

So. It’s not new news that whole grains and a high fiber diet are good for you. A new reason to incorporate more of them into your diet can only be a good thing, right?

Here are a few ways to boost your intake of resistant starch foods:

Ensure whole grain breads are really whole grain:
read the label. If the first ingredient is wheat flour, that means white flour – it must say whole wheat if you’re looking for bread that includes the whole grain. Many grainy looking breads have grains added to make them look healthy, but they are still based largely on refined white flour.

Add dry lentils to your soup: one thing many people don’t realize is that you can add dry lentils directly to soups and stews without soaking or precooking them first! Toss a handful of green-blue-brown lentils into a pot of soup and they’ll cook in about 40 minutes; split red lentils will only take 15, and are easily pureed into butternut squash and other popular pureed soups. Bonus: they’ll boost nutrients and protein, too.

Swap rice for barley: pearl or pot barley cooks in about 40 minutes – simmer it in a pot of water, much like you’d cook pasta, and drain it well at the end. If you like, add some green lentils too – they will cook in the same length of time, leaving you with a great base for a cold grainy salad or pilaf. If you cook a large batch, leftovers freeze well to toss into soups later on.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/gbh007

Tagged as: ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.