What Does Starch Do and How Can You Get More in Your Diet?

Starchy foods provide your body with lasting energy.
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Starch is a type of complex carbohydrate found in a wide range of foods, including potatoes and whole grains, per the National Health Service.

Starch breaks down into glucose in your body, providing a more gradual energy source for your bodily processes than do simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar. Carbohydrates, such as starches, provide the majority of fuel for your body, so it makes up a significant part of your caloric intake.

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Starch breaks down into glucose in your body, providing a more gradual energy source for your bodily processes than do simple carbohydrates, such as refined sugar.

What Does Starch Do?

Starch converts into glucose to be used as energy for your body. Glucose circulates throughout your body in your bloodstream and gets taken up by cells and used as a source of fuel, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Glucose is used to power all of your bodily functions, and it's the main source of energy for your brain and nervous system.

What Is Resistant Starch?

While most starches are broken down by your body into glucose, resistant starch passes undigested into your colon, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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This type of starch functions much like dietary fiber. It provides nutrition for the beneficial bacteria in your colon — acting as a prebiotic and keeping them thriving and healthy.

There are different types of resistant starch and a single food can contain multiple types.

Starchy Foods

Starch-heavy foods are all plant-based and include the following:

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  • legumes
  • potatoes
  • whole-grains and whole-grain products (such as bread and cereal)

These foods are also rich in a range of essential vitamins and minerals, which are important for overall health.

Foods high in resistant starch include raw potatoes, green bananas and plantains. Potatoes, rice and legumes that have been cooked for long periods and then left to cool are also high in resistant starch.

Legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains are also naturally high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol level as well as prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis, per the Mayo Clinic. Most Americans do not eat enough dietary fiber on a daily basis.

How Much Starch to Eat

Carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake each day. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that translates to between 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day. There are no specific guidelines on the amount of starch to eat daily, though.

However, dietary recommendations differ according to your personal health. If you have diabetes or overweight, talk to your doctor for specific advice.

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