Resistant Starch: Gut Superfood

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Resistant Starch: Gut Superfood

We often hear about the importance of the gut microbiome, and rightfully so. It’s central to a healthy digestive system, nervous system, immune system… basically every body system. But did you know it thrives on a particular type of food? Introducing the concept of a gut superfood… resistant starch. 

What is The Role of The Gut Microbiome?

The gut microbiome is made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live inside the human gut. This is the good gut flora everyone is after. But like any living organism, these beneficial microorganisms need support and nourishment. Otherwise, they aren’t able to fully do their job to protect and promote health. That’s where resistant starch (RS) comes in. 

Optimizing the intestinal microbiota with resistant starch can improve many aspects of health. It can improve digestion, elimination, the immune system, hormones, and even the look of our skin! The great thing is that it’s easy to increase our intake. But first, what exactly is resistant starch?

What is Resistant Starch? 

We’ve long heard about the importance of including fiber in our diets. We hear about soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and their importance for adding bulk to the stool. Both improve digestion and help balance blood sugar. So how does this relate to resistant starch?

 Resistant starch is more fiber-like than starch-like. It’s similar to dietary fiber because it can’t be digested. This starch ends up being low glycemic rather than high, so it also doesn’t spike blood sugar like typical starch would.

The Insitute of Medicine included resistant starch in their definition of fiber in 2002. 

Prebiotics For Gut Health

Our bodies don’t digest resistant starch. Instead, it serves as a type of fermentable fiber and works as a prebiotic in the gut. Prebiotics are indigestible substances that pass through our (mostly sterile) small intestine fairly intact. 

They go straight to the large intestine, which is where most of our gut bacteria live. Rather than digestive enzymes breaking these starches down, they’re fermented. The good bacteria use them as fuel and multiply. 

So, resistant starch basically acts as food for our gut flora. Prebiotics feed probiotics. That’s why you’ll see some probiotic supplements that include prebiotics on their ingredients list. When good bacteria eat prebiotics, it results in the production of “postbiotics.” 

Postbiotics and Resistant Starch

One type of postbiotic is short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs lower bowel pH, which means a less hospitable environment for pathogens.  The most crucial SCFA in the intestines is butyrate. Butyrate is the preferred fuel for the cells lining the colon and increasing it has many health benefits.  

I talk more about butyrate and the other SCFAs in this article on postbiotics.

Types of Resistant Starch

There are four types of resistant starch: 

  • RS Type 1 — Starch that’s found in certain plant cell walls, like grains, legumes, and seeds.
  • RS Type 2 — Starch that’s rich in the polysaccharide (chain of sugars) called amylose. Amylose is indigestible when raw, so it feeds the gut bacteria. Once cooked, it no longer serves as resistant starch. You’ll find it in raw potatoes, green bananas, plantains, and some legumes.
  • RS Type 3 — “Retrograded” resistant starch. It’s made when Type 1 or Type 2 resistant starches are cooked and then cooled. Potato salad and bean salad are excellent sources.
  • RS Type 4 — A synthetic form of resistant starch from supplements. One popular commercial version is Hi-maize resistant starch. Hi-maize is a specially processed type of corn starch that’s resistant to digestion. It’s used in fiber drinks and in some baked goods.

Increasing your intake of resistant starch has a wide range of potential benefits. Some you may not notice symptom wise, but others you will. Some results you may not know until you go in to get your cholesterol or glucose levels checked.

Health Benefits of Resistant Starch

For over three decades, researchers have looked at the health effects of resistant starch. You can find both human and animal studies and the results are pretty amazing. Resistant starch may:

  • Increase absorption of important minerals like calcium and magnesium.
  • Promote gastrointestinal health by providing dietary fiber.
  • Decrease absorption of toxic and cancer-causing compounds. This may lower the risk of colorectal cancer or colon cancer.
  • Positively change microflora, particularly increasing bifidobacteria, which can ease constipation.
  • Support a balanced immune system.
  • Lower inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.  
  • Lower cholesterol and lipid levels.
  • Lower the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Combat insulin resistance by helping with insulin sensitivity.
  • Lower blood glucose levels.
  • Increase feelings of satiety.
  • Promote weight loss, combatting obesity.
  • Lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve brain and gut health.

Amazing, right? All of us could use help in at least a few of these areas. So how do we get more resistant starch? 

How to Get Resistant Starch in Your Diet

We naturally get resistant starch from the food we eat. The highest sources of resistant starch are raw potatoes, green bananas, green plantains, cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, and beans. You can see a detailed list of resistant starch foods in this chart from Free the Animal.   

Many of these foods you may not eat, as they have other negative health effects. But you don’t have to eat bagels and cornflakes to get resistant starch. Healthy foods high in resistant starch include the following:

Resistant Starch Foods

These are all rich in undigestible starches that feed our good bacteria and promote gut health. Most resistant starch studies have participants ingest 30 grams a day. According to the chart linked above, a 200-gram boiled potato can have up to 9 grams of potato starch. 

You can boost the resistant starch content by cooking and then cooling the potatoes. That’s known as retrograded starch. If you eat grains and beans, think cold rice salads or re-heated beans with your eggs — that sort of thing. You could even add some homemade hummus. These are a few good ways to create retrograded starch and increase your RS intake. 

Starchy foods like cassava and potatoes are also good sources of prebiotics. They’re great to include in your diet to boost prebiotic intake. But when was the last time you had a Jerusalem artichoke? Plus, you’re looking at eating a lot of carbs to reach that target amount of resistant starch. There must be an easier way…

Here’s an Easier Way to Get It

In general, Wellness Mama readers tend to follow a lower carb, traditional, Paleo, or whole foods based diet. So, eating a diet based on starch and grains may not be so enticing.  

If that’s the case, try this little hack instead: Consider raw potato starch. Raw potato starch has about 8 grams of resistant starch per tablespoon. It has very few “usable’ carbohydrates. This starch doesn’t affect blood sugar levels, since the body doesn’t digest it. The gut microbiome does. 

Raw potato starch is inexpensive and tastes bland, so it’s easy to use. It’s also naturally gluten-free and overall allergen-free. Remember it has to stay raw, so you don’t want to cook it. It’s best to stir it into a cold or lukewarm beverage or add it to uncooked foods.  

Where to Find Resistant Starch

There are many good options out there for resistant starch. But these are the ones I’ve personally tried with good results and recommend. My favorite is the prebiotic powder because it tastes delicious!

Start Slow and Watch for Reactions

Of course, consult with your health practitioner before beginning any health regimen. They can give guidance on the right dose for you and discuss any personal health concerns.

It’s also best to start slow. You may want to start by simply eating more prebiotic-rich foods. You can also just add some cooked and cooled potatoes, like in this sweet potato salad. Or, try adding one teaspoon of potato starch to a smoothie, kefir, or water. Slowly build up your dose.

Side Effects of Resistant Starch 

A common reaction to potato starch is an increase in gas or bloating. You may also have changes in your stool. These symptoms result from changes in the bowel bacteria. For most people, these side effects are short-lived. If they persist, give yourself a break and stop taking the potato starch. 

Instead, work on boosting your existing good bacteria with probiotics, particularly soil-based ones. Then try adding small amounts of potato starch back in and see how you do. Usually, tolerance improves over time. 

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Resistant Starch

Many people who consistently consume resistant starch report improved health. They have better sleep and dream recall. Their bowel movements are more consistent, and they notice improved digestion. Their blood sugar control improves, and they have better muscle tone.

Sounds good to me! 

Do you try to include resistant starch in your diet? What’s your favorite way to get it? 

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


84 responses to “Resistant Starch: Gut Superfood”

  1. Rene Avatar

    Is potato starch still considered a prebiotic when it gets baked after being incorporated into a gluten free bread flower blend?
    Or does it definitely have to be raw in order to act as a prebiotic?

  2. Brooks Avatar

    I cooked 3 small potatoes in a pressure cooker the put them in the fridge for 2 days. I microwaved for 123 second and then added butter. My blood glucose went from <100 mg./dl to 175 mg./dl @ 30 min. A pressure cooking web site implied that pressure cooking made the starch even more resistant after refirdgeration. Reheating may have changed the resistant starch back. That method has too much glucose for me and I am not diabetic. I have gone through 2 bags of Bob's Red MIll potato starch ( 1 heaping Tbsp.. added to cold water or Crystal Light lemonade. It goes down easy and MAY reduce risk of cancer.

  3. Janet Bowen Avatar
    Janet Bowen

    I have Sjogrens and RA, and plenty of gut issues. I came across resistant starch totally by accident, and it seems to be helping me tremendously. I have trouble digesting grains so I started using Cassava flour to make tortillas, pizza crust, baked goods, etc. Couldn’t get enough of it. All of a sudden I was sleeping better, was less bloated, and able to reduce my supplements by more than half. I did make a couple other changes that may also have contributed but the resistant starch from the cassava was definitely a huge contributing factor.

  4. Vivian Avatar

    I am 67 yrs old and from childhood on I have eaten Potato Salad. It never gave me any digestive gas or bloating. What you are using is a chemical process very unnatural which is causing the gas and bloating. And many companies processing this so called Potato Resistant Starch use Soy as fillers. Soy in America is over 90% GMO and the body cannot digest Genetically Modified Soy. The information flood this internet now can be very dangerous for most of it does not tell the truth. So be very careful what you say in these articles and what you read in other articles.

    1. Brooks Avatar

      I tried a self experiment, n=1. I pressure cooked some baby potatoes and put them in the refridgerator for 2 days. I reheated them for 123 sec. in the mic. then ate with butter and salt. 45min. later I checked my blood glucose with a meter (per Dr William Davis). My blood glucose was 175 mg/dl, just below the renal threshold for spilling sugar in the urine. A thinly sliced raw potato and a bit of salt does NOT raise my blood glucose. My fasting blood glucose is < 100 mg/dl.

  5. Jono Avatar

    Any idea how much resistant starch remains after heating it above 130 degrees (e.g. cooking muffins, pancakes, etc.)? Would glycemic levels of cooked foods — such as pancakes — be curtailed if supplemented with uncooked RS2 (e.g. plantain flour) in a drink? Any insight or reference on whom to ask would be fantastic 🙂

    1. Rhonda W Avatar
      Rhonda W

      Plantain and banana resistant starch cooks out between 65-70 degrees C, and the resistant starch is generally lost. Some quantity of it will retrograde, but we don’t know how much RS3 is reformed under different conditions. The only resistant starch that reliably remains resistant starch after baking is RS2 – resistant starch from high amylose corn, brand name Hi-maize. The very high amylose content significantly increases the gelatinization temperature so that it doesn’t cook out in baking. At this point in time, it is the only natural resistant starch with this characteristic. There are some RS4 chemically modified resistant starches that will withstand baking, but they are fermented differently in the intestines and are not equivalent to the natural resistant starches.

      1. Jono Avatar

        That’s some great insight! I’ve heard of the Hi-maize recently so I’ll have to check it out. Do you have any insight as to whether glycemic levels of cooked foods — such as pancakes — be curtailed if supplemented with uncooked RS2 (e.g. plantain flour) in a drink?

        1. Rhonda W Avatar
          Rhonda W

          If plantain flour is consumed in a drink and remains uncooked, it will retain its resistant starch content. However, keep in mind that some of the resistant starch from the original plantain is lost when the plantains are dried to create the plantain flour. Unless you know the drying conditions or the plantain flour is tested for its resistant starch content, you don’t really know how much is there. I have not seen reliable data on the resistant starch content of plantain flour. I have some information about green banana flour, but not plantain flour. Cooked foods are a different story. Hi-maize has been used for so long and in more than 80 clinical studies, that it is a known and proven resistant starch source. It reliably contains >50% resistant starch. Many clinical studies have shown that it retains its resistant starch is still there after baking into pancakes, muffins, cookies, bagels, pizza crust, arepas, corn chips, biscuits, pasta, etc. Does this answer your question?

  6. Jono Avatar

    So do people experience this extra gas because of extra fermentation occurring in the colon? Overtime does the body adapt and the gas effects go away? RS is truly an interesting topic.

    1. Anna Avatar

      Hi Jono. I think I was taking too much RS to begin with, which contributed to the excessive gas. I drastically cut back consumption and have been slowly building up my dosage, and haven’t had any more issues : )

  7. Anna Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama. What are your thoughts on tigernuts as a source of RS?

    I have just starting eating them, and I must have started out too quickly as they’re giving me strong detox symptoms!!! (Think gas, gas, and more gas, plus overwhelming fatigue.)

  8. Naomi Avatar

    I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Amyloidosis , a blood / autoimmune disorder .There is no cure , but there is a treatment that includes months of chemo and a stem cell transplant . Since I started the treatment in 2014 , I have had a lot of gastrointestinal issues and someone with the same disease and issues said that a GI doctor had told them to take tapioca powder . Would this have the same affect . Thank you in advance and if you believe in prayer would you mind offering up one for me and my family /

    1. Rhonda Avatar

      I can’t answer your questions although I would love to know the answers. However I do believe in prayer and will pray for you and your family! I am so sorry for your suffering.

    2. Rhonda W Avatar
      Rhonda W

      I do not know anything about that condition and will indeed pray for you and your family. I can comment on tapioca powder. Tapioca is usually regarded as a starch that is easier to digest – I think this is why it is given to babies or used in baby foods. There is a tapioca resistant starch (a type 3 form) but it is rarely if ever used in the US. It is manufactured by a European company called Cerestar and some European researchers have published clinical studies with it.

      While I do not know what that particular GI doctor would have had in mind, I am guessing that he/she would be more likely to think of easy digestion instead of relative obscure European research on resistant starch.

      It has only been recently recognized that the microbiota in the gut are intimately linked to immunity and metabolism. You might consider trying a small quantity of resistant starch to see if can tolerate it. It is well known that resistant starch produces more of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate within the gut than other fibers and that butyrate is the preferred food for colon cells. While it is a component of keeping large intestines healthy, it might not work the same way in diseased guts. I have no idea whether (1) you have the type of gut microbiota that ferment resistant starch, which produces beneficial butyrate, (2) your colon’s response to fermentation in general and specifically resistant starch fermentation. I wish there were, but there is absolutely no way to predict what will happen and I would not dare to venture a recommendation. You might consider compiling some of the studies on resistant starch, butyrate and colon health and ask your GI doctor for his/her opinion. this article might give you the data to start:

  9. Lisa Avatar

    So how much potato starch would be recommended to ingest on a daily basis?

    1. Rhonda W Avatar
      Rhonda W

      Researchers have suggested that 20 grams of resistant starch or more a day are needed to get all of the benefits. However, studies have shown a range of effects. If you are trying to reverse a health problem, you will need more than if you are trying to maintain a healthy gut. Any amount of resistant starch that you add to your diet will help in any case. I recommend a tablespoon of resistant starch/day for overall healthy gut but two tablespoons/day or more for improving insulin sensitivity.

  10. Georgie Avatar

    Hi, thanks for all the great info. I have Lyme disease & a whole bunch of autoimmune diseases. I follow paleo (and on/off AIP). I’m in australia and found a local business that makes organic green banana resistant starch. I was very excited.
    My question is, it has a carb content of 75%, do you think this would be processed in the body like u mentioned with the potato starch (that u don’t “use” and convert the carbs)?
    Hope to hear your thoughts!
    Thanks again x

    1. Rhonda W Avatar
      Rhonda W

      Green banana starch is also resistant starch. One study found that if the bananas are really green when they are processed, they can be more than more than 60% resistant starch. If they are more green than yellow when processed, they are about 40% resistant starch. If they are yellow with a green tip, bananas have about 10% resistant starch and if bananas are yellow with brown spots, they are about 2% resistant starch. As the bananas ripen, the resistant starch turns to sugar, but the bananas store their starch in a form that is resistant to digestion. Yes, it will have the same effects if it was processed while the bananas are truly green.

  11. Shaun Avatar

    I bought some potato starch from holland and Barretts health food shop, will this work or has it got to be bobs red mill version? I don’t like buying things over the Internet and the shop bought version is £10 cheaper! Is there any reason why all these articles recommend bobs red mill version?

    1. Rhonda W Avatar

      There is nothing special about Bob’s Red Mill version of uncooked and raw potato starch. Any source should provide similar amounts of resistant starch. Within the United States, Bob’s Red Mill is generally available and is trusted to be natural. You could eat raw potatoes if you preferred that instead.

      1. Shaun Avatar

        Thanks for your reply 🙂 it’s a bit confusing that every article names that particular brand, was starting to think it had something about it that other sources were missing. I will carry on with the stuff I bought from the local shop then. Thank-you again.

  12. Belinda Avatar

    What about candida overgrowth? Is it safe to consume potato or plantain starch? Thank you!

    1. Hayley Avatar

      I would also be interested in an answer regarding the use of resistant starches with candida overgrowth as anticandida diets say no potatoes, bananas, tapioca….well, or starches of any kind…but obviously there is an imbalance in the gut that could benefit from probiotics. Thanks in advance for your response.

  13. Ghayet el Mouna Avatar
    Ghayet el Mouna

    As always great article great topic. I love your work and your website is a delight to be on. I just really want to thank you for all your work. I’m a huge fan!

  14. Suz Avatar

    What if I dehydrated raw jeruselum artichokes and then powdered? Would that work as a resistant starch?

  15. Terry Avatar

    Hi. It’s mentioned that most studies are based on a 30 gram consumption. Is that the amount we should be working up to? If not, what is the recommended amount?

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