Incorporating resistant starch into your diet offers many potential health benefits. Some research shows that resistant starch may:
Keep Blood Sugar Stable
Because resistant starch is slow to digest, it keeps blood sugar levels stable. This can help reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal, which is especially beneficial for people with diabetes.
What’s more, resistant starch has a second-meal effect: Eating resistant starch at breakfast can lower your blood sugars at lunch, per the results of one small study.
According to a review published in January 2022 in Frontiers in Nutrition, adding resistant starch to your diet is a simple lifestyle tweak that can aid diabetes management.
“We’re still learning more about this topic, but it’s been suggested that the blood sugar-lowering effect may be related to improved insulin sensitivity or the action of short-chain fatty acids [or both],” says Amanda Sauceda, RD, a registered dietitian in Long Beach, California, who specializes in gut health. As she explains, short-chain fatty acids are produced when your good gut bacteria ferment fibers, like those found in resistant starch foods.
Support Gut Health
Resistant starch acts like fiber, and that fiber gets fermented by healthy bacteria in your gut. “Those good gut bugs can produce short-chain fatty acids, which can have wide implications for your gut health,” Sauceda says.
For example, short-chain fatty acids can help keep your intestinal lining strong and assist with mucus production and inflammation, she explains.
The short-chain fatty acids from resistant starch may also help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the review published in June 2022 in Journal of Functional Foods.
Boost Heart Health
Resistant starch has been shown to benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, per findings from a meta-analysis published in June 2018 in Nutrition Research. It also improves blood sugar control, as demonstrated in a small study of overweight adults published in 2017 in Nutrition Journal. “It does this by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which produce the short-chain fatty acids that have these beneficial effects,” Butler says.
According to a review published in March 2022 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, short-chain fatty acids help regulate the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. In this way, resistant starch may help treat heart diseases that are aggravated by an overactive nervous system, such as chronic heart failure, high blood pressure (hypertension), and coronary artery disease.