If you’re up on the latest in the Paleo community, then you’ve probably heard the term resistant starch flying around, and you probably have some idea of what it is. If you’re NOT up on the latest in the Paleo community, then you have no idea what I’m talking about and are reading this post because the weird title piqued your curiosity.
Either way, I’m about to 1) explain briefly what a particular category of resistant starch is and how it works; 2) refer you to an article that fully explains the concept much better than I will; and 3) leave you with an awesome kitchen hack and a recipe that you can thank me for after you sink your teeth into the deliciousness.
What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch, also known as amylose, is one of two types of starch found in green plants. It’s made up of a structure of molecules so tightly wound that it’s difficult for the enzymes in our digestive tract to break them down. They are resistant to digestion and therefore behave differently than digestible starches. There are multiple types of resistant starch, but right now we’re only going to focus on one: Retrograded Starch.
For a comprehensive explanation of ALL types of resistant starch, check out this article in PaleoMagazine.
Retrograded Starch is the type that’s created once starchy vegetables like potatoes, grains, or beans is cooked and then cooled for a 24 hour period before serving. This cooling process, either by refrigeration or freezing, actually changes the structure of the starches already in these foods and creates a more resistant variety. (source)
Why would I want to eat resistant starch?
Resistant starch is actually a lower glycemic food than your regular digestible starch. The glycemic load can be reduced by up to 25% just by cooling your cooked starchy veggie for 24 hours before eating. (source – affiliate link) Great news if you’re struggling with your blood sugar but find yourself starving without a few starchy carbs in your diet! Even better that some studies show an increased sensitivity to insulin with the consumption of resistant starch. (source)
This works beautifully for dishes like potato salad, bean salad, pasta salad, and quinoa salad — just cook your starchy veggies the day before it’s time to make the salad, and you’ll already have cold ingredients ready to go, resistant starch and all!
KITCHEN HACK BONUS: These starches remain resistant upon reheating the food. So if you want warm potatoes or rice (etc), you can still make this work in your favor if you plan ahead.
DIGESTIVE BONUS: When resistant starches make their way to your small intestine, they feed and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut (prebiotics). Some of these healthy bacteria (in addition to doing a host of other beneficial tasks inside your gut like synthesizing vitamins and fighting invaders) release butyrate into your system. Butyrate is a fatty acid that aids in metabolic function, reduces inflammation, and supports immune function. (source)
Don’t go too crazy now!
Start slowly with resistant starch, and make sure it agrees with you. That PaleoMagazine article I mentioned earlier recommends that you begin with 20-40 grams per day to test the waters. This post is not meant to give you cart blanche to go on a wild carbo-licious rampage, as tempting as that might be sometimes. That being said, I have a scrumptious recipe to share that follows all the precautionary recommendations when adding resistant starch into your regimen.
Red White and Bleu Resistant Starch Potato Salad
Ingredients (makes 6 to 8 servings):
- 1 lb of the most colorful small potatoes you can find (red and purple are ideal for greatest nutrient density), cooked the day before and refrigerated
- 4 pieces organic bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled (never settle for conventional bacon, and get pastured if you can find it)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (amount depends on your affinity for stinky cheese)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup homemade coconut mayo
- Splash apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Halve or quarter 1/2 the potatoes, depending on the size, and roughly mash the other half with a fork in a large bowl
- Add bacon, cheese, scallions, and walnuts to potatoes
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper
- Stir in the mayo mixture until well-incorporated
- Serve cold
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