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The Third Fiber – The Healthy Starch

Despite its name, Resistant Starch performs in a similar nature to both soluble and insoluble fiber. Some even classify it as third type of fiber.

Although it is indeed a starch, resistant starch (RS) cannot be fully broken down and absorbed.

This creates unique health benefits, including improved digestion, lower rates of insulin release, lower levels of blood cholesterol and fat, and improved weight management.

There are four known types of resistant starch.

The first type, “physically inaccessible”, is unable to be broken down and digested. It is found in beans, seeds, and whole or partially milled grains. Physical inaccessibility is actually a good thing in this case as it infers that fewer calories will be absorbed, as any energy stored in the resistant starch (as with insoluble fiber) is carried through with it.

The second type, known as “resistant granules”, contains high amounts of amylose, a type of polysaccharides, making it slower to digest. You’ll find this type in fruits, some legumes, potatoes, and corn. It is best to get resistant granules from raw food,for they’ll lesson with cooking. As is the case with most types of resistant starch.

The third type is the exception, as it can be found in foods like potatoes and rice that have been allowed to cool after cooking. This type is known as “retrograded” RS.

“Chemically modified” is the fourth type of RS. This form is not a naturally occurring type of resistant starch, but is synthetic and isolated from foods, like corn, containing RS. It is then added to processed foods. While best to eat whole, unprocessed foods, type four resistant starch may allow manufacturers to add the benefits often associated with fiber to their products without altering the texture.

Because the diets of most people are made up greatly of over-cooked and over-processed foods, a large “fiber gap” has been created. In the U.S. it has been recommended that the average adult consume 25-31 grams of fiber a day. Some research even suggests 38 grams a day for the average adult male. Yet most of us consume a measly 15 grams per day. Making our gaps equal to, if not often greater than our intake.

Luckily, resistant starch seems to have a positive effect on health with as little as 6-12 grams a day. Though you could safely consume around 40-45 grams a day and receive even more benefits. So, if not content to leave your nutrition goals agape, consider switching out meals high in processed ingredients for simple, whole ingredients whose origins are less a mystery to you.

For more information on foods containing resistant starch, consult the list on this page. It also has in-depth information on how resistant starch works.

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