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Resistant Starch Shows Blood Sugar Benefits

Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thirty grams per day of resistant starch may improve sensitivity to insulin by 73% for men, but not women.
The ingredient can be formulated into a range of functional foods, says National Starch Food Innovation.

A lower dose of 15 grams per day of the company's Hi-maize 260 resistant starch produced a 56% improvement in insulin sensitivity, according to findings of a trial with overweight or obese but non-diabetic male participants published in The Journal of Nutrition.

While the improvements in insulin sensitivity are consistent with data from other studies, said the researchers, this is the first study to show improvements at a dose "as low as 15 grams per day."

Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager of nutrition with National Starch Food Innovation stated that, "Hi-maize resistant starch can be formulated into functional foods or added by consumers to their favorite home recipes to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels." "Hi-maize resistant starch may help to shift several important hormones, including insulin, that significantly affect glucose metabolism beyond the immediate meal."

Starches can be divided into three groups: rapidly digestible starch (RDS, digested within 20 minutes), slowly digestible starch (SDS, digested between 20 and 120 minutes), and resistant starch (RS). The latter is not digested but is fermented in the large intestine and has 'prebiotic' properties. Resistant starch can be found naturally in cold cooked potatoes, pasta and rice as well as baked beans and lentils.

Led by Kevin Maki from Biofortis-Provident Clinical Research, the researchers recruited 33 men and women with an average age of 49.5 and an average BMI of 30.6 kg/m2.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive 0 (control starch), 15 or 30 grams per day of the Hi-maize 260 resistant starch for four week periods. The periods were separated by three week washout periods, and the participants were then randomly crossed to the remaining groups.

Results showed that men but not women displayed improvements in both resistant starch groups, with a 56% and 73% improvement in insulin sensitivity in the 15 and 30 grams per day groups, respectively. The differences between men and women may be related to transit times of food through the gastrointestinal tract, differing sensitivities to the products of fermentation in the gut, or perhaps due to the stage of their menstrual cycles. However, the researchers note that it is not clear why men responded differently to women.

Source:, The Journal of Nutrition, doi: 10.3945/​jn.111.152975: "Resistant Starch from High-Amylose Maize Increases Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight and Obese Men".

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