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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Resistant Starch -- New Food Trend

Resistant Starches are everywhere. This may be the biggest new food trend you haven't heard about yet. This was news to me -- but it is not news. Real nutritionists like the Fanatic Cook are blogging about it. Nutrition websites around the world ( OldWays Pt, Australia's HealthyEatingClub) are promoting them.

But you might not notice them on food labels. Starches and carbohydrates that resist digestion have been classified as dietary fiber for several years. Some of them could appear as "wheat flour", "corn starch" or "modified food starch". Green bananas, canned baked beans and cold potato salad are just naturally chock full of resistant starch.

Sara Lee(TM) and Aunt Millie(TM) feature them in their breads to increase fiber and decrease calories while preserving the "white bread" texture their customers love. Yogurt makers like StonyField Farm are using them to thicken yogurt while improving calcium absorption. They are going into pretzels, snack bars, power bars, and meal-replacement drinks.

The health-food (functional food, nutraceutical) claims are astounding.
These carbohydrates lower blood glucose and insulin levels [1] (about as well as other dietary fibers), prompt your body to burn the fat you eat instead of storing it [1], improve the way you reacts to insulin [2], decrease cholesterol [3], increase absorption of calcium and other minerals [4], promote "good bacteria" in your gut [5, 6], nourish your colon [6], and protect you from colon cancer [7].

To top it all off, they improve the texture of many kinds of foods, help you feel more satisfied after a meal, and cause less flatulance than "old fashioned" insoluble fiber.

There is good scientific evidence to back up all of these claims. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

1. Resistant starch consumption promotes lipid oxidation
2. Insulin-sensitizing effects of dietary resistant starch
3. Adzuki resistant starch lowered serum cholesterol... ; The influence of enzyme-resistant starch on cholesterol metabolism in rats fed on a conventional diet.
4. Oligofructose stimulates calcium absorption in adolescents
5. In Vitro Utilization of Amylopectin and High-Amylose Maize (Amylomaize) Starch Granules by Human Colonic Bacteria
6. Starches, Resistant Starches, the Gut Microflora and Human Health
7. Resistant Starch Attenuates Colonic DNA Damage Induced by Higher Dietary Protein in Rats


Rhonda Witwer said...

FYI - oligofructose is not a resistant starch. Bone health benefits have been demonstrated with oligofructose but not yet with RS. Both are fermentable fibers, but oligofructose is soluble and rapidly fermentable, which accounts for its relatively low tolerance. Natural resistant starch is insoluble and slowly fermentable, causing it to be extraordinarly well tolerated. In other words - you don't get side effects like bloating and gas unless you consume > 45 grams of fiber/day from natural resistant starch.

One study compared oligofructose and RS directly and found that FOS did not produce the same effects as natural resistant starch. In short, RS healed intestinal ulcerations and oligofructose did not. See Moreau, N.M., Martin, L.J., Toquet, C.S., Laboisse, C.L., Nguyen, P.G., Siliart, B.S., Dumon, H.J., Champ, M.M.J. Restoration of the integrity of rat caeco-colonic mucosa by resistant starch, but not by fructo-oligosaccharides, in dextran sulfate sodium-induced experimental colitis. British Journal of Nutrition, (2003), 90, 75-85.

FamilyNutritionist said...

Thanks for clarifying. Somehow, I thought I had seen oligosaccharides lumped in with resistant starches. I am very new to the topic, and only an occasional blogger.

Keep up the good work! How do we get it on the front page of the newspaper? I don't think I've ever seen anything about colon health in the Food section!