- To highlight the benefits of resistant starch, Rhonda Witwer, vice president of marketing and business development at the International Agriculture Group, is working with manufacturers to establish an association to increase consumer knowledge about the ingredient, according to Food Navigator.
- Resistant starch is an insoluble dietary fiber found in raw and unprocessed grains, not ripened bananas, beans and pulse crops, and cooked starchy foods such as rice and potatoes.
- After more than 200 human clinical trials, Witwer noted it has been shown to improve sensitivity to insulin, control blood glucose and weight, promote beneficial gut bacteria and possibly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
With a host of health benefits proven in clinical trials, resistant starch has potential to become the next superfood. Its easy access also gives manufacturers an opportunity to boost the health benefits of their products if they can increase consumer awareness.
A big hurdle for manufacturers will selling the idea of something called resistant starch to consumers despite the health benefits. According to Food Navigator, a number of ingredient companies are making and marketing resistant starch products. IAG has its NuBana green banana flour and Ingredion makes Hi-maize high amylose corn starch. In addition, there's PenFibe modified resistant potato starch; Cargill's Cerestar high amylose resistant corn starch, ActiStar resistant tapioca starch and ActiStar modified resistant tapioca starch; MGP Ingredients' Fibersym chemically modified wheat starch; and Roquette's Nutriose resistant corn dextrin.
But names like modified resistant tapioca starch and chemically modified wheat starch are enough to turn off customers more interested in simple, clean labels. It's difficult to pitch resistant corn starch as "a sexy health ingredient," she told Food Navigator, adding that it's easier to pitch green banana flour on a food label.
There are four types of resistant starch, and while they can be found in some processed foods, they are also in natural foods like whole grains, beans, green bananas and raw potatoes. Other good sources include high amylose grains such as oats and cooked and cooled rice, legumes, raw potato starch, cooked and cooled potatoes, and flour made from Hi-maize (corn).
A simpler task may be to focus on the ingredient's health credentials, which include prebiotic benefits for the microbiome. She supports classifying fiber into three categories — bulking fibers such as oat bran, viscous fibers like oat or barley beta-glucan, and fermentable fibers such as resistant starch. People need all three, but because of today's common processed food diets, they typically only get 5 or 6 grams per day, while 30 to 50 used to be the norm.
If marketed well, consumers may be more interested in eating resistant starch and seeking out products that include it on the label. The adaptability of the ingredient, which can be eaten naturally or mixed into smoothies or yogurts, as well as its potential health benefits could be what resistant starch needs to elevate its relatively low profile.