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Don't resist the powers of resistant starch

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

It happens to everyone -- there are times you just could have used a bit more starch in your collar (or pants or hair!). But a fashion faux pas doesn't come close to the major dietary mistakes most folks make when they miss out on the powers of resistant starch.

Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that does NOT turn into sugar when you chew or digest it. Instead, it passes through your gastrointestinal system unchanged and emerges out the other end having done amazing good works along the way. High-fiber foods like legumes -- navy beans, lentils, fava beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and edamame, for example -- plus bananas, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice have a good dose of it.

Aim for 20 grams a day -- that's 1/2 cup navy beans and two slices of 100 percent whole-wheat bread, about four times more than most folks eat. The benefits?

Good gut bacteria thrive, strengthening your immune system and protecting you from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Blood glucose doesn't spike to cell-damaging levels, and your blood sugar levels stay relatively stable after a meal.

And new findings! Cancer cells in the colon and gut are vanquished.

There's one trick: Foods that contain resistant starch have to be eaten at room temperature or cooler. (Cook 'em, then cool 'em.) So enjoy a cold whole-wheat pasta salad (add salmon for double goodness) or four-bean salad with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Who'd want to resist that?

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.