Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 Apr

Resistant Starch: Your Questions Answered

PotatoesLast week’s Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch garnered a lot of attention. While the article covered a lot of ground, many of you had lingering questions and concerns about the topic: What is and isn’t resistant starch? How much resistant starch should I be eating? Why is resistant starch good for me? What is resistant starch again?

I don’t blame you; it’s a confusing one that appears, on first glance, to challenge some of the fundamental Primal ideas about food and nutrition.

Today, I’m going to answer as many questions from last week as I can. Hopefully it clears up most of the bigger questions.

Let’s get right to it:

Do the benefits of RS outweigh the negatives of rice, legumes, potatoes, etc.?

Great question.

Rice and potatoes, yes. I’ve already spoken on both those subjects in previous posts, and my basic conclusion is that both rice and potatoes are relatively toxin-free sources of starch that an insulin-sensitive, sufficiently-active individual can likely consume in moderation without ill effect. For both foods, the negative effects come from the carb load they represent, which is simply too high for some people. But by cooking and cooling them, you reduce the carb load, reduce the glucose response, and improve your insulin sensitivity. In essence, any “negatives” are mitigated by the emphasis on resistant starch. If you have trouble with glucose tolerance, and you’re looking to drop weight, you should still exercise caution with these foods and heed the Carb Curve, but preparing them in a way that increases the RS content will only make them less problematic.

One note: potatoes are iffy for people with nightshade intolerance. So there’s that to consider.

Legumes, I’m not sure. I strongly suspect that the health benefits ascribed to legumes are solely due to the prebiotic, RS effects, which interest me but are not the sole province of the legume. But the fact remains that many people simply don’t tolerate legumes very well. It could be that some of the tolerance issues stem from disrupted gut flora and introducing RS will ameliorate your troubles, but who knows? We’re still learning a lot. In the meantime, I’m not too interested in soaking beans. There’s nothing essential about them, so long as we’re getting RS from other sources.

I’m a little confused…how does one go about adding RS in whole food form without doubling or tripling their normal daily carb intake? I can’t see eating 1-2 green bananas and a couple raw potatoes each day, in addition to normal amounts of carbs from veggies and fruit (I usually have one serving of fruit a day– berries, if possible) and still staying under 100-150 carbs. Please, enlighten me!

Believe it or not, you can easily eat green bananas without tripling your digestible carb intake. And that’s the key: you don’t digest these carbs, your gut flora do. An average large banana contains a hair over 30 grams of carbohydrate. If it’s green and totally unripe, the majority of that carbohydrate will be resistant starch that your body does not digest into glucose.

You’ll know you’re getting the good stuff when the banana is crispy and leaves a chalky aftertaste in your mouth. Pleasant, I know. But added to a smoothie, it’s actually quite nice. In fact, here’s a recipe I’ve been playing around with:

  • Cup of milk (coconut, almond, cow, goat, etc)
  • Large green banana, peeled and sliced
  • Quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Quarter teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Half teaspoon of honey (may be unnecessary depending on the sweetness of your bananas)

I assume that the time of day you take RS does not matter?

It shouldn’t. Once you’ve established a healthy population of butyrate-producing gut bugs, they don’t need to be fed at a certain time every day. They’re quite malleable and adaptive, and they’ll also begin feeding on other fermentable fibers in your foods.

What is the reason to supplement RS instead of getting it from food? How much RS is “good enough” and how much real food would meet that amount?

Supplemental RS is just easier, and most of the research in support of it has used supplemental RS-rich powders – so we know it works. But real food probably works even better since it comes with vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols (which have prebiotic effects in their own right), and it most closely resembles the way our early ancestors consumed RS.

Let’s see. If you can work your way up to between 30 and 40 grams of RS, whether from food or from powders, you’ll be in a good place. That’s the dose used in much of the research, and it’s where butyrate production is maximized.

What does that look like in food form?

600 grams of baked, then cooled, potato has around 25 grams. You can even lightly heat the potato after it’s been cooled and retain the RS.

1 large (8 inch) green, fully unripe banana has somewhere between 20-25 grams. A large green plantain has about 50 grams. Not the most palatable, but it’s doable, especially if you slice into discs and dehydrate into chips. A smoothie masks it well, too.

Any idea if heating the potato starch (like using it as a thickening agent in soups/stews) negates its RS function?

Yes, the RS will be completely negated. Sorry. It does make a good thickener, though.

Cooked and cooled rice – as in sushi? Or does the vinegar somehow negate the benefit of the resistant starch?

Yes, cold sushi rice will contain RS. Good sushi restaurants generally keep their rice at room temperature, though, so I’m not sure you’ll get the retrograde RS effect unless you go for grocery store deli case sushi. And hey, I actually like that stuff, so there’s no shame in eating it. Just avoid gas station sushi if you know what’s good for you.

Vinegar shouldn’t affect it either way. Vinegar does reduce the blood glucose response when consumed with carb-rich foods, so it might be a nice supplement in its own right if that’s an effect you’re after.

So that pizza crust recipe has mostly tapioca starch/flour (same) in it. (Also, not Potato Starch–potato flour) If I make the crusts and freeze them and then reheat and eat, would the RS still be usable? Same as the potatoes and rice I would think. So perhaps that is a go on the RS.

I don’t think it works like that. For retrograde RS to form, it has to be in its whole form – potatoes, not potato starch; cassava, not tapioca starch; rice, not rice flour.

Question about “cooked and cooled” – what the heck does that mean? So, I cook it, and cool it. Does that mean I have to eat it cold to get the resistant starch? If I zap my bowl of bean soup and rice that came out of the fridge, when does it lose the resistance to digestion?

Retrograded RS (cooked and cooled) is maintained during subsequent heating. You can even heat it and cool it once again to create even more RS. So you don’t have to eat it cold, though I would advise against re-heating a cooked and cooled RS source into oblivion. Keep the heat relatively low.

Should the carbohydrates from resistant starches (for example, a cooked and cooled potato) still be counted in daily consumption if it is not digested?

Some of it should still be counted, because not all – or even most – of the starch is resistant. Most of it is good old digestible glucose. But you can subtract the 4-5 grams of RS from the 21 grams total starch in every 100 grams of cooked and cooled potato. Not bad, eh?

And remember, it’s not that the 4-5 grams become inert, useless matter passing through your body. They are bioactive, just not with the biology of the host. They turn into fatty acids that fuel your colon and improve your ability to tolerate the digestible glucose you consumed along with them.

Is just eating Pistachio’s (or other seeds) enough RS to do the trick?

Probably not. To hit the 30-40 grams of resistant starch that maximizes benefits in most trials with pistachios would require a lot – of money, of calories, of shelling. 100 grams of roasted pistachios has around 3.5 grams of RS. That may be in the shell, and raw pistachios may have more, but either way it’s not a huge amount. Not bad, not great. The beauty of the less calorically dense RS sources is that they allow a more varied diet. It’s nothing to add a couple tablespoons of potato starch to your diet.

That said, pistachios are potent prebiotics. One recent study found that they increased butyrate-producing bacteria in the colon, outperforming almonds. You should definitely eat pistachios, but I think you should also eat other more concentrated sources of RS.

That’s the beauty of it all: it’s not a competition! We can eat pistachios and other things at the same time without disrupting the effectiveness of either.

Question: would hummus fit the bill as cooked & cooled legumes?

Yes, hummus seems to qualify even though it’s not Primal. According to the PDF from last week’s post, 100 grams of hummus has 4.1 grams of RS. Hummus made from soaked chickpeas will have more than hummus made from canned chickpeas, however.

What would be the best way to gradually incorporate RS into the diet for a person that has gut inflammation with chronic bloating?

You need probiotics. And in your case, I doubt yogurt or even kefir will be sufficient. Try something soil-based, as in the same types of probiotic organisms that Grok was getting on a regular basis simply from living. These are likely the microbes to which our guts are evolutionarily accustomed.

Primal Flora works (worked for me with RS!); it provides a high dose of two specific soil-based strains that have been shown to be helpful in clinical trials. You could also go more broad-spectrum, with more soil-based strains but lower concentrations.

Start really, really, really small with the RS. If you’re going with the unmodified potato starch, start with 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. It will look like almost nothing. Increase it by 1/4 tsp slowly as comfort allows.

If that doesn’t work – but I imagine it would – and your gut is really compromised, I suggest trying Dr. BG’s gut healing protocol. It involves probiotics, prebiotics, and a number of other, more drastic but potentially necessary steps. The good doc is a bit wild, but in a good way. Just read her stuff at least twice and you’ll figure it out. Reading it out loud seems to help, too. She certainly has a way with language!

Does this mean I can start eating sushi and potato salad??! 😉

Well, you can choose to eat anything you want, of course. That’s never changed. What this does indicate is that those foods, when cooled, have unique effects, different than if you were to eat a bowl of hot steamed rice or a large baked potato fresh from the oven.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that the potato salad and the cold sushi rice will result in a lower blood glucose response and feed the helpful critters in your gut – both good things. But before you go digging into that store bought potato salad on a regular basis, consider avoiding the seed oils and making your own. I’m a fan of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs, myself. I can rarely be bothered to make my own mayo, although that’s also a good option.

Anyone have a recipe using raw potato starch that can be easily incorporated into a primal/paleo diet (meat, eggs, veges, occasional fruit)? I don’t do smoothies, nor do I do fruit juice or yogurt.

Aside from smoothies, sparkling water is the best vehicle I’ve found for potato starch. The bubbles seem to enhance the dispersal of potato starch granules into the medium, even without a blender. Just a fork or even a quick stir with your index finger is enough to get it completely mixed in.

So what to use? Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch or Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour?

Potato starch seems to be the most reliable way. From reading the comment sections on blogs and posts on various forums, the digestibility of tapioca starch/flour varies from person to person. Many people seem to get elevated blood sugar after taking a tablespoon or two of the tapioca, whereas potato starch is almost invariably indigestible.

Can the potatoes be fried in lard and then cooled? I would rather try a yummy food source then a powder.

A few weeks back, I described my method for foolproof, easy crispy root vegetables. You pre-bake them and store in the fridge. This increases the RS content of the potato. When you’re ready to fry them, simply peel the skin, cut them up into the desired shape (cube, fry, etc), and lightly pan fry them in the fat of your choice. Lard is a great option. Since they’re already cooked, you don’t need a lot of heat or a lengthy cooking time, and the RS is preserved.

If we’re taking probiotics without RS as well – what is happening? The bacteria in the probiotics are starving? But don’t they eat other stuff besides RS? Sorry, I know I sound like a boob, but – I’m still a little confused.

No, the probiotics can still help, by partial colonization. But for the best results, you’ll want to provide food so that the probiotics have more lasting power and can hitch a ride into the colon where they do the most good. Feed the animals; they aren’t bears and it’s not Yellowstone! It can be resistant starch and/or any other prebiotic fiber. The point is to feed them stuff they can eat, thrive on, and ride on.

RS fits the bill.

One more question – how does this need for RS fit into the Grok-lore? What did our Paleo ancestors do that we aren’t doing?

As I’ve written before, wild tubers, roots, and other underground storage organs are frequently highly fibrous with lots of indigestible starch. That’s what Grok would have encountered, not the smooth, starchy goodness of a Russet potato, which had to be selected for by the experienced hands of agrarian tuber breeders.

We can’t all eat dirt-encrusted cattails rich in resistant starch, but we can approximate the effects with modern tools. Taking soil-based probiotics and emphasizing preparation methods that maximize resistant starch content is, by all accounts, an extremely Primal and biologically-appropriate way to emulate one important aspect of our evolutionary metabolic environment.

Any thoughts on the resistant starch found in Quest Bars? Quest Bars contain isomalto-oligosaccharides. The makers claim this is a resistant starch.

It’s not a resistant starch per se, but rather a prebiotic fermentable fiber. Studies indicate that while its consumption does improve constipation and increase production of the short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) propionate and acetate, it does not increase production of the most beneficial SCFA, butyrate.

Is consuming RS the only way to feed our gut?

No, definitely not. Other prebiotic substances matter, like various plant fibers (inulin, pectin), dark chocolate, and even connective tissue (yes, animal fiber – the crunchy gristle and cartilage too many people discard). With a Primal eating plan rich in plants and whole animals (including bones and broth), you should be getting plenty. But resistant starch is an important, unique prebiotic that makes feeding our gut a whole lot easier and more effective.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

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You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Thanks for the answers. I recently started taking resistant potato starch myself… haven’t noticed anything yet, but I started low due to a sensitive gut. Any thoughts on potato starch and nightshade sensitivity? I know that Mark has mentioned in previous posts that too many potatoes have made his joints ache. I’ve also suspected nightshade sensitivity occasionally…but it’s near impossible to pin down the exact sources of gut problems sometimes!

    Brian Stanton wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  2. That’s wonderful–I love green bananas but I’ve always been afraid of the carbs. The sugar might still be too much for me, but now I have a great roadtrip snack.

    Natalia wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I wonder how the fructose load from the bananas being green are affected?

      Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • As I learned from my FM son, the fructose in a green banana is much lower than in a ripe one because the starch has not yet converted to sugar.

        Joshua wrote on April 3rd, 2014
    • I’m not a fan of green bananas, but I have been known to get impatient and eat one every now and then. :-)

      Stephen wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • I eat them with peanut butter or almond butter-great snack before bed

        Susan wrote on March 17th, 2016
    • Green bananas are a great way to experience resistive starch. dont worry about carbs because they dont go through the insulin process. I take 2 hard green and 2 yellow throw in blender with coco water with no added suger and a teaspoon of ceylon cinnamon or real cinnamon which i get in sticks and grind fresh . dont use cassia cinaamon as is very bad for your liver. i also throw in a love of garlic . Have been doing this 2xs a day for 3 months now and it is amazing how good I feel. good luck

      loren franks wrote on April 17th, 2015
  3. We must be resistant to resistant starch–all I get is weight gain. Hubby’s BG goes through the roof and mostly stays there.

    Wenchypoo wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • As I understand it, then, it’s not RS you’re getting, but digestible starch–because RS isn’t digestible, it doesn’t send the BG up like that. What was your source?

      Tom B-D wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • @Wenchypoo — Others seem to echo your experience. Since we don’t all handle carbohydrate the same, it stands to reason that we don’t all handle resistant starch the same way. Here’s a link to a study that may provide genetic clues to differing carbohydrate metabolism from Kresser’s site:

      Those with low copy number of amylase gene would likely fare better not trying to emulate the starchy diets (resistant starch or otherwise) of Asians/Africans.

      Just as some vlc zealots believe everyone on the planet should be in ketosis, it appears that some resistant starch zealots believe that they’ve found the holy health grail and that those who don’t believe are a ribeye away from doom and gloom. I’m reading things like billions of Asians can’t be wrong blah blah blah. I don’t think they are wrong, they just may be genetically better adapted to higher starch fare.

      I like Mark’s measured approach — experiment and see what works for you (which it appears you have done) and ditch what doesn’t.

      Adrienne wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • whmmmmm if a person is eating normal meals and only one resistant starch meal there may be problems. What I did and do is eat 2 resitive starch smoothies a day and one normal meal but low on carbs and cut the suger compleatly. never felt better am 65. RS has cut all food cravings for me. Its a great experience. Am dropping fat dramatically.

        loren franks wrote on April 17th, 2015
    • @Wenchypoo, a lot of us gain about 5-10 pounds as when you feed the bacteria they grow at an enormous speed. I always wondered how 4 oz of rice could add a pound of weight over night. Now I know – the rest is water used to grow the increased numbers of bacteria. I decided the potential long term health benefits of adding RS would negate the worries about the added weight. Starving the good gut bacteria which supports the immune system also makes blood sugars overly sensitive (ie go sky high with any sugars). After 5 years on a moderately low (not VLC) carb intake really, really mucked up my blood sugar responses as measured by symptoms. After 3 months on RS I can say that while my weight is up I’ve not had to buy new clothes (though at the top of my range), my sleep is MUCH better, my blood sugars by symptoms are vastly improved. So overall I reckon its worth it despite me being one with multiple health issues. I feel I’m on the right track.

      Harriet wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  4. Can I leave here a (traditional Spanish) recipe for mayonnaise?
    So often mayo is referred to as something cumbersome to do. But there is probably not an easier sauce to fix. It takes literally seconds. And is completely primal.

    This is the typical Spanish home mayonnaise. You need: One egg, olive oil, lemon (or vinegar), salt.

    Put the egg in a mixing glass. Using an electric mixer start mixing with one hand while with the other you slowly pour the olive oil. Stop once you get a slighter thicker consistency than you want. Squeeze is some lemon and salt. Mix again. Voila!

    Matorres wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I highly recommend using the stick blender method. Youtube has a great one minute mayo video but basically you put all your mayo ingredients in the blender glass and let them settle. Then start pulsing from the bottom slow and brief for several pulses. When the mixture starts to emulsify in the bottom, you can begin mixing more earnestly until all the oil is incorporated. A super-fresh pastured egg and good olive oil will make the creamiest, most delicious mayo! Coconut oil tends to get hard again in the fridge. Experiment with various vinegar and lemon juice combos and adding garlic powder and dry mustard. Anchovy filets also add a kick like you wouldn’t believe!

      Yay! Potato salad for summer!! I am so glad!

      Rhonda the Red wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • +1 with the Stick Blender. Works like a charm in seconds.

        Nocona wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • FYI, melted bacon drippings makes fantastic mayo with the above method. You’re welcome.

        Monica wrote on April 2nd, 2014
        • You can make Hollandaise sauce with a stick blender, too.

          KariVery wrote on April 3rd, 2014
      • But the stick blender is a pain to clean….

        Laurel wrote on April 4th, 2014
    • Olive oil mayo has always come out horribly bitter. If I use the “light tasting” olive oil I worry about how it has been refined & deodorized & bastardized.

      Laurel wrote on April 4th, 2014
      • I like veganaise but a friend told me about lemonaise and I am going to try that (not sure about the spelling of them…)

        Susan wrote on March 17th, 2016
  5. So would it stand to reason that the best way to do Primal Flora would be to take the capsules with some sparkling water with potato starch stirred in?

    Danny wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  6. And it’s all compiled in one spot…Mark, you’re just awesome. Thanks.

    Tom B-D wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  7. Yikes, confused:

    “I don’t think it works like that. For retrograde RS to form, it has to be in its whole form – potatoes, not potato starch; cassava, not tapioca starch; rice, not rice flour.”

    But I thought previous entry had encouraged adding potato starch powder? Uh oh, I’ve been doing it for a few days now (nothing major, just a half tsp).

    anyone? potato starch powder (like bob’s mill bagged) ok in morn drink?

    suzanne wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Potato starch powder is ok, just don’t heat it.

      The question is referring to Retrograde RS, which you get from cooking and then cooling.

      Mike wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • thanks Mike!

        tkm wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • Thank you!’

        Suzanne wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I was just going to post the same question. This is an awesome post overall, but that point has me VERY confused. Thanks for asking Suzanne and I hope someone can answer…

      tkm wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  8. Thanks for putting this all in one place, Mark.

    My wife and I do a nightly kefir smoothie. Adding a fully green banana to the mix is no problem at all.

    C L Deards wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  9. So…fried plantain chips don’t work? Bummer.
    Time to get out the yogurt and go for a funky smoothie…O.o Don’t have a dehydrator unfortunately.

    SB wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Use the method that Mark mentioned regarding potatoes, it should work the same. Bake, cool in fridge, then fry.

      michael wrote on April 9th, 2014
  10. Hi, Firstly thanks so much for this site and all the brilliant info and inspiration. I would like to ask a question. I followed the McDougall (high starch) diet on recommendation for the reduction of arthritis and weight for about three months last year – made me worse, a lot worse! Also made me weak and very light headed. Then I discovered professor Ebringer’s London Diet (low starch) which has been, in the main, very helpful. The theory is that it starves a certain microbe called Klebsiella pneumoniae, thought to cause a leaky gut and an autoimmune response that breaks down joint tissue, which I think was causing my symptoms. I also tweaked my diet after finding Sarah Ballantyne’s book and on finding this site and your books, I am just starting the 21 day Primal Blueprint programme. My question is, do you have any thoughts or information on how to starve these bad organisms by avoiding RS, yet keep up the good organisms by eating fermented foods, yet they also need RS to grow? It is something of a dilemma. Thanks again:)

    Roberta wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • My understanding includes the following:
      – Different microbes often feed on different things, and most can feed on multiple things. Most of them do not feed exclusively on RS, and some do not eat RS at all. Much overlap and adaption of course (even borrowing/copying genetic material from other species!), but you can change the demographics of your microbiome dramatically by changing your diet.
      – Intermittent fasting may help by weeding out some of the undesirables. It has other benefits, too.
      – In general, biodiversity is good. Having many species keeps all of them in check, especially the aggressive ones (the potential pathogens). It creates an ecosystem.
      – In a healthy, diverse gut population, I imagine that those species that are “not supposed to be there” would tend to die off and have a very hard time colonizing. This because a healthy, diverse (=stable, strong) population would be the one with which symbiotic relationships developed, and so “good” or “bad” species would be defined by their membership or lack thereof. *This is entirely speculation*
      – You can start mostly from scratch by taking antibiotics, and then probiotics. However, this gives pathogenic species an outstanding opportunity to set up shop. Unrecommended extreme measure; choose your probiotics wisely and choose lots of them.

      Bill C wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  11. anyone here use something different besides primal flora for their probiotic?

    Erin wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Also, I regularly drink kombucha. I am wondering if I should add a capsule or not.

      Erin wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • I take 2 of the 3 recommended on Dr. Grace’s site. Primal Defense, Prescript Assist and just ordered the AOR Probiotic-3. Free the Animal and Dr. Grace recommend them and they sold out for quite a while or I would have had the AOR one sooner! They are expensive but you don’t need them every day once your gut is repopulated

        Bethie wrote on April 2nd, 2014
        • I’m also taking Prescript Assist and AOR-3.

          I take 4 tbsp. of Bob’s Red Mill unmodified (raw) potato starch a day.
          I am fine with just mixing it in water and chugging it down, but sometimes I liked to mix it into some organic canned pumpkin (at room temperature) along with some cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and some sweetener (stevia or Z-sweet).

          I’m a diabetic on insulin and I am getting the best fasting bg’s I have
          ever had in 20+ years! Yay!

          Wheatless Ellen wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Make your own Kimchi! or sauerkraut. It is easy and fun and interesting to make. I use Sally Fallon’s, “Nourishing Traditions” recipes. I highly recommend the book for its many, many wonderful fermented food recipes. I have seen many posts on youtube as well that will talk you through the process.

      Rich wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • VSL 3 from Sigma Tau. Expensive but is high potency. Recommended to us by an integrative MD. Does not require a prescription. Our local pharmacy orders it for us but you can also get it directly from the company. Look online.

      Laurie wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  12. If I just eat raw peeled potato to get my RS, is there a better choice regarding what type of potato to eat and also what amount would be best? I have been eating a quarter of a medium sized russet potato so far. Thnx.

    James D wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I read that Russet potatoes are highly digestible, not as much RS as a waxy type or potato, like Yukon Gold. Also, it’s best to cook the potato whole, so that it doesn’t take on a bunch of extra water. The extra water gets in the starch molecules so that they can be formed into amylopectin, which is highly digestible. Without extra water, starch molecules can cool to form the tightly wound amylose molecules, which is what resistant starch is. So, by my understanding, less water and less cooking are better, but steaming, boiling, roasting should all be fine for potatoes.

      I use my slow cooker a lot, and here’s my trick. I have meat and or bones cooking, and then set small whole, waxy potatoes on top, so they’re barely in the liquid. I just take them out when they are done, let them cool, refrigerate at least 24 hours before eating.

      I’m a diet-controlled diabetic, and I added Bob’s Red Mill potato starch for my diet for 2 weeks, 4 tbsp per day, divided into 3 meals. I started reading about persorption of starch molecules, wondering if there’s any truth to articles saying that starch molecules can migrate all over the body and cause micro-embolisms. So now, I’ve decided to stick to going more natural–green plaintain and cold potatoes. So far, I have been able to eat 50g of cold potato with my blood sugar only rising to about 120, which is GREAT for me! Usually, that’d be 140 or even 160!

      Jenny wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I use purple potatoes. There are a few varieties that your local hippy grocer may have. I figure if I’m going to eat something starchy, I may as we’ll take in some antioxidants with it. No difference in flavor though.

      His Dudeness wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  13. Does a steamed, then cooled sweet potato (orange flesh variety) have a lot of RS, or are regular potatoes better?

    Don wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Sweet Potatos have little to no RS. White potatoes are the way to go however not via steaming

      basil cronus wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • Why not steaming? Boiling then or only baking?

        Don wrote on April 2nd, 2014
        • From what I’ve been reading, roasting potatoes is the best method. Simply cut the potatoes (skinned or not, you choose), coat them lightly in oil (or not, you choose), pop them in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked but not soft, more al dente like. Then, cool them in the fridge overnight (these actually should last 3-4 days if you want to make a larger batch). Bring them out in the morning and pan fry them lightly (just to heat them, don’t get them piping hot!) like Mark suggested – in a little lard or fat of choice. Then, cook a couple of organic eggs sunny side up and toss those babies on top. Perfect breakfast, IMO, or lunch, or dinner (you choose). Add a little sauteed kale to that plate and yum, yum, yum. You could also cut up the potatoes and add them to a skillet of sweet potato hash browns (already cooked through and hot), turn off the heat and just toss it all, making a combo nutrient dense, RS packed power meal. Personally, this is my plan for on days I ride a bike over 30 miles or hike for several hours. It’s rocket fuel, I swear!

          Mary wrote on April 2nd, 2014
        • Thanks for the recipe! However, I’m still curious to why steaming would not work as well as roasting.

          Don wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  14. I was under the impression inulin is resistant starch. Is this incorrect? Specifically Jerusalem artichokes (aka sun chokes). Thanks

    Lyndsey wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Inulin isn’t resistant starch but it is a fermentable fiber.

      Chupo wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  15. Don’t know much about RS but that has not prevented me from achieving some benefit from Mark’s “21-day” program (for 4 months now): weight 205 from 224, trig from 159 to 94, hdl from 41 to 47, ldl from 139 to 109, only stubborn glucose remains high (112-113) on fasting test. Doc sad, keep doing what you’re doing, before her training overcame common sense and she started spouting SAD advice: low fat, hi grains, etc. Ha. And my blood pressure went from 125/85 p65 to 98/65 p50!

    Corey B. (Long Beach, CA) wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Your blood sugar is higher because you’re on a very low carb diet. I know it sounds backwards but it happened to me while all my other numbers looked perfect. Your becomes insulin resistant when you’re low carb to save glucose for the brain. This is totally normal to have higher morning blood sugar but it usually normalizes torwards the afternoon and night.

      Diego Paparella wrote on April 3rd, 2014
  16. I do not understand this issue with hot or cold RS. Doesn’t everything become body temperature once it stays 2-3 minutes in the stomach? :S

    Primal_Alex wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • It stays resistant up to about 140 degrees F. Above that, it degrades into starch that the small intestine can process.

      Jenny wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • The original blog entry states that raw potatoes are a good source of resistant starch, but not many people like to eat raw potatoes, so powdered potato starch is offered as an alternative.

      Cooking the potato greatly reduces the amount of resistant starch, but once cooled “retrograde” resistant starch is formed. So that’s why you get more resistant starch from a potato that’s been cooked and cooled than from a hot one. According to the blog entry above, once the retrograde resistant starch has formed, you can then reheat the potato without losing any more RS.

      In short, when it comes to potatoes, if you want the most resistant starch:
      – raw potatoes
      – uncooked potato starch
      – cooked and cooled potatoes
      – cooked and cooled and reheated potatoes.
      Don’t eat:
      – cooked potatoes
      – cooked potato starch

      Mantonat wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • Do you have any idea how much RS is in a raw potato? I’ve been slicing them up and throwing them in my salads. It really makes eating them very easy!

        Kyle Kreick wrote on April 28th, 2014
  17. Another question: can you get soil-based probiotics simply by letting the food from your garden stay a little dirty before you eat it raw? Or maybe even eat a little dirt?

    shannon wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • If you’re growing your own veggies, you’ll probably get plenty even if you give them a light rinse. Especially if you’re not peeling or cooking them – carrots, radishes, turnips and other root veggies that can be eaten raw, also most of the leafy greens eaten raw. They have lots of nooks and crannies that harbor microflora that a light rinse won’t dislodge.

      Mantonat wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • I went ahead and ate some dirt anyway. it was good.

        shannon wrote on April 2nd, 2014
        • Lol I was thinking the same

          Dani wrote on February 11th, 2016
  18. I’ve been taking potato starch (4 tbs daily, split into 2 servings) for about 6 weeks and find that my sleep quality has improved. I recently went off the stuff for 2 weeks due to abdominal surgery — I wasn’t eating anything for a few days and was slow to get back into the routine. My digestion was poor after all the antibiotics and pain meds, but starting back on probiotics and potato starch seems to be helping after just a couple days.

    MiniMogur wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  19. Maybe a silly question but – if I freeze the green bananas, do the retain their unripe state?

    VickiV wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I peeled green bananas and plaintains, sliced and then refrigerated or froze in open containers. (No lid.) They dried out in a way that I liked, and still seemed to retain their unripe state–didn’t get sweet.

      Jenny wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  20. Is there any difference in RS between white potatoes and sweet potatoes?

    Lizzy C. wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Mark put a link to a PDF in this article. Please go read it, as it will tell you how much RS is in food (very helpful). No, sweet potatoes don’t have much RS at all, but that doesn’t mean you should chuck them entirely for the white potatoes. Sweet potatoes have so much more nutritional value and are still very valid in our diets. I still eat them and am using potato starch on the days I do (i.e. I’m aware of carb content so I rotate sweet potatoes on the days I use PS; and on the days I eat white potatoes (cooked & cooled), I don’t eat the sweet potatoes – unless, I do a combo mix, but even then, I stay cognizant of the carb count)

      Mary wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Sweet potatoes contain hardly any RS, so don’t waste your time eating that. You could replace either one with Jicama – excellent stuff. Low GI, GL, contains inulin – polysaccharides a much desired prebiotic/fiber. Jicama is aka “yambean”, “turnip” (in Asia), Mexican yam, etc.

      Cjuan wrote on July 17th, 2015
  21. Great information as usual.
    It becomes unfortunate though that our severely depleted and overused soil for food based sources just don’t have the nutrients in them that they should or even close to what are paleolithic ancestors would have had access to

    jamie wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Solution: permaculture. Also, wild foods if practical.

      Bill C wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  22. Why is no one talking about chia in this latest round of RS droning? A “smoothy” of kefir, chia, cocoa, homemade kraut juice…..mmmmmmm.

    fred wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Sorry Fred, you had me until the kraut juice! Ugh, to each his own, but that sounds like a “gawd-awful” concoction!

      RenegadeRN wrote on April 3rd, 2014
  23. I started a week ago with tapioca starch as I have nightshade problems. I had gas the first day, then no problems. I am now up to 4T/day having worked up slowly. I love the satiating effect of RS. I will try this for a full month and see if it seems to be doing anything. Thanks for all the articles on this subject, this is very helpful to me, and many others…from the volume.

    dizzyjean wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • From what Mark said in response to soemone asking about tapoica starch I believe there is very little resistant starch in tapioca, if you can’t have potatoes then you might be better off with green bananas or plantains

      Vanessa wrote on April 16th, 2014
  24. So if I am understanding this, as summer approaches (BBQ season!), German potato salad is the way to go. Cooked and cooled potatoes and vinegar instead of mayo. I can live with that.

    Rich Frantz wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Why vinegar instead of mayo? If it’s because of the vegetable oil just make your own with olive oil, it’s very easy, much easier than people make out, although does take a lot of whicking if you do it by hand. But hey, that’s exercise!

      Vanessa wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • How does olive oil hold up? Even overnight in the refrigerator and mayo gets weird. I would make a tub and eat it all week and I think vinegar would hold up better. I do prefer mayo, so it has been YEARS since I had German style, I think I’ll make some this weekend. With bacon of course.

        Rich Frantz wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • Why vinegar? Because that’s what’s in the traditional German potato salad recipe. Generally some sort of oil too. Although every German potato salad I’ve ever had has been served warm.

        Mantonat wrote on April 2nd, 2014
      • Every olive oil mayo I’ve ever made is horribly bitter and had to be tossed.

        Laurel wrote on April 4th, 2014
        • I have to admit I don’t use extra virgin olive oil for mayo but a refined one for this reason, still much better than the vegetable oil ones though! You could alos use high oleic sunflower oil if you can get hold of it

          Vanessa wrote on April 16th, 2014
        • Try avocado oil (or macadamia nut oil if you’ve got a little extra cash – it’s pricy!) Virgin or extra virgin OO is not good to make mayo with.

          KariVery wrote on May 13th, 2014
    • I love potato salad with vinaigrette instead of mayo! So glad to learn cold potatoes are beneficial!

      Paleo-curious wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  25. Does it make you a little nervous to proclaim that butyrate is the king of the SFCAs and the preferred product in the netherends? I mean, there was a time where everyone thought glucose was supreme for the brain, but ketogenic diets are doing wonders for people. I’m just not sure we’re ready to declare that butyrate is king yet, are we?

    Jack Navarath wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Has anyone considered butter colonic irrigation?

      WalterB wrote on May 3rd, 2014
  26. Amazing information as usual. Thank you. Would Chicory Root or Artichoke inulin powders be considered RS?

    Zach wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  27. I wonder if the plantain pancakes I make have much RS? They’re made with green plantains and eggs, butter vanilla, than cooked but I sometimes make extra and put them in the fridge and reheat the next day. I understand the green plantains need to be raw for best effect but if they’re cooked and then cooled wouldn’t you get the retrograde RS? What about if you cook them and let them cool before eating them (with handling a 4 year old and getting food down her my food is often cold before I get to it!),

    Also, glad to know that my occasional potato salad is a good thing!

    Vanessa wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  28. Although not primal, are frozen peas, ie raw and frozen, a good source of resistant starch?

    Des wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  29. I think there should be a distinction made between Bob’s Red Mill potato starch and Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch. They are two different products. I am assuming the “unmodified” means “raw.” I don’t think regular potato starch includes any resistant starch, but unmodified potato starch does? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Evelyn wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Use Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch. I’ve been putting a tablespoon in a smallish glass of cold water, stirring just a bit to dissolve, and drinking. Twice a day. Seems to work fine without a lot of expense or fuss, although I now realize I should be taking about two times as much as I am now.

      Robin wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  30. Hi,

    So would plantain flour not work? Made from diced plantains?

    Carren wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  31. Here’s a great recipe I use to add unmodified potato starch to my diet. Chocolate “Pudding”
    1 avocado,
    1/2 banana,
    1 T natural unsweetened cocoa powder,
    about 1/4 C milk or water (almond milk, dairy or whatever you like. Just enough to be able to blend the ingredients)
    1 t unmodified potato starch (or however much you like),
    few drops of stevia or sweetener of your choice (I usually use 1 packet of Truvia)
    Give it a whirl in your food processor or VitaMix. I use my VitaMix. Rich, creamy, chocolate treat! I make it a “functional food” by adding some VSL3 probiotics, potato starch, some calcium/magnesium powder out of a capsule.

    You could try making it with an immersion blender or a regular blender; might need a bit more milk.

    It’s a very flexible recipe! Sometimes I use just half an avocado. Adjust the ingredients to your taste. Chocolate and avocado sounded like a strange combo at first, but you don’t taste the avocado, just the chocolate and banana. It’s delicious!

    Laurie wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  32. Thanks for answering my hummus question, Mark! There’s a Lebanese restaurant nearby that makes the BEST hummus ever, & I know one of their secrets is extra-long soaking, so I’m betting it is healthier than the run of the mill variety. It’s definitely tastier!

    Paleo-curious wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  33. Just tried mixing potato starch with seltzer, PERFECT, no lumps or potato taste, the first time I tried mixing with mashed avocado, worked but gummy, Thanks.

    Papa tango wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • The seltzer thing is indeed perfect; thanks so much!

      CEW wrote on October 13th, 2014
    • I love my own home made Vichyssoise-cold potato soup-you have to boil the potatoes and put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to become resistant-so then make that into soup. For the raw potato starch (Bob’s Red…) I put it in a smoothie in the morning-unsweetened original almond milk, raw potato starch, chia seeds, flax seeds, sometimes some plant based protein, raw coconut milk (if on hand), soaked almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sometimes a part of a green banana. It is a bit textured so I actually chew it (to mix with saliva for digestion) and mmmmmmmmmmmm.

      Susan wrote on March 17th, 2016
      • And for the resistant starch I make a kind of a rice pudding-I have to check if black rice would also be resistant but I use the Thai black sticky rice pudding and you can actually steam it in a Chinese pumpkin and make it cold in the refrig before slicing and serving. Or just make a regular rice pudding also.

        Susan wrote on March 17th, 2016
  34. If you want a cookie-dough like RS mix, take:

    4T Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch
    2T Raw Almond Butter
    1T Butter

    Mix it!

    Delicious alone or with celery or however you want to eat it. I think all told it’s only about 400 calories (ok, that’s a lot), mostly from fat or RS-which-is-eventually-fat.

    Justin wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I see you are a young male, so 400 calories is the perfect snack. Enjoy!

      Debbie wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • This sounds really yummy. I don’t think 400 cals is really THAT much… in context. I mean if you ate this all day long every day… that’d probably cause some problems. But as an occasional treat it’s probably fine. How often do you eat this, if I may ask, Justin?

      KariVery wrote on April 3rd, 2014
      • Yeah it’s not really that much — I used it as a sorta light lunch to break a fast. This was done maybe 2-3 times a week.

        FWIW I never had much of an issue with gas, but had been taking a probiotic for awhile. I can attest to the vivid dreams though.

        Justin wrote on April 3rd, 2014
        • Gotta try that! Been missing cookie dough….lol.

          Tony T wrote on September 6th, 2014
  35. I still am not really hearing an answer to my question which is “If I just eat raw peeled potato without cooking it in any way shape or form to get my RS, is there a better choice regarding what type of potato to eat and also what amount would be best?” I have been eating a quarter of a medium sized uncooked raw russet potato so far. Thnx.

    James D wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Please don’t eat raw potatoes, they are very toxic. You can get very sick or even die.

      Ben from Sydney wrote on May 4th, 2015
  36. I am SO scared to try probiotics again. A couple years ago, I bought some refrigerated kind at Whole Foods. Took one capsule the first evening, a second at midday the next day and then spent the next two weeks unbelievably sick! I lost 17 pounds in 10 days (and NOT in a good way! It seemed as if all my gut flora and fauna took a mad dash for the emergency exit!) So, so ill! The company never answered my emails (I wondered if the stuff had been contaminated); and I’m nervous about trying some again.

    I have no bad reaction to the potato starch — I enjoy the vivid dreams! I take 4-5 TBL every couple of days. However my diet sucks: I hate all vegetables (I have since infancy) and tend to live on meat, eggs, rice, cheese, and nuts, mainly. (Yes I try veg now-and-again — and still recoil from the taste. {sigh}) I bought some Primal Defense after the previous entry, but am leery of trying it — trying to figure out a time when I can afford two-week downtime, just in case…

    Elenor wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • It’s possible you got a bug, perhaps from going out shopping or whatever. It’s happened to me a couple of times in the last 3 years and is very debilitating. Most people take probiotics without difficulty…however, maybe you could try opening a capsule and sprinkling just a tiny bit of the contents in your potato starch, just in case.

      A healthy gut biome requires food in the form of a variety of fibers and other prebiotics such as RS, inulin, etc. Not eating any veggies or fruit makes that difficult, obviously. Maybe look up sources of prebiotics and probiotics and see if you can add any to your diet. Can you eat Bubbies brand pickles, kefir, psyllium husks, for example. One of the items I buy now are shiritaki “yam” noodles at an Asian grocery store, which are made are from the konjac plant and feed the good bugs. (Don’t get the tofu type. :( )

      Energy! wrote on May 25th, 2014
  37. I’ve read about RS for a few years now and about how cooled baked potatoes are supposed to help one lose fat. I love cooled baked potatoes anyway

    BTW, who is the young man in the picture? He looks just like my son!!

    J. K. Michelson wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • I heard that you can’t reheat potatoes or rice and it still is a resistant starch but if you put it back in the refrigerator a second time it is even better as a resistant starch.

      Susan wrote on March 17th, 2016
    • I understand the potatoes are supposed to be boiled then cooled in the refrigerator several hours or overnight to become rs. Also the rice has to cooled in the refrigerator several hours or overnight

      Susan wrote on July 9th, 2016
  38. Please excuse me if this was answered before (I read last week’s post and this one), but if I were to elect to eat raw potato with some nice sea salt, how much raw potato would I have to eat to get the 30 – 40 grams of RS recommended?

    Thank you!

    Kathy from Maine wrote on April 2nd, 2014
    • Please don’t eat raw potatoes. They can make you very sick. There are many cases in the scientific literature of people actually dying from eating raw potatoes. Cooking destroys most but not all of the toxic enzyme (protease) inhibitors and lectins, but very little of the saponins (glycoalkaloids). The saponins are very high in green potatoes, which is why you can’t eat green potatoes, even if you cook, bake or deep-fry them. If you want to eat raw roots, stick to tried and true ones, such as carrots, and speak to people with a long, long experience eating others.

      Ben from Sydney wrote on May 4th, 2015
      • thanks for the note about NOT eating raw spuds, Ben. I’ve just discovered a good replacement – Jicama (often called ‘turnip’ in Asia, and ‘yambean’ and Pachyrhizus erosus elsewhere). It has both low glycemic index and glycemic load. It contains inulin… and its innate sweetness comes from polysaccharides and not sugar, so helps provide not only diabetic-friendly food but also a much desired prebiotic/fiber

        Cjuan wrote on July 17th, 2015
  39. Mark, I guess I got a little over exuberant after reading your article (definitive guide to starches). I made me a potato salad(with homemade mayo), let it cool and ate which turned out to be too much! My stomach was an issue for a couple of unpleasant days and I would have been better off heeding your advice to start slow with this stuff. Did I not have enough probiotics in my system to handle the large portion of potato salad? Oh well, I had a much smaller portion today and things seem to be holding up pretty well if you know what I mean.

    victor wrote on April 2nd, 2014
  40. James Beard liked raw potato as an appetizer: sliced into rings, topped with sour cream and caviar. I never got to the caviar, but raw potato has been a guilty pleasure of mine since childhood. So glad to know I can come out of the closet. Raw, different kinds of potatoes have distinct flavors. Purple ones are my favorite.

    Wenda wrote on April 2nd, 2014

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