Awareness of resistant starch appears to have expanded beyond the realm of food scientists in 2008. While researchers have sought ways to increase the amount of resistant starch in processed products, consumer media outlets have spread the word about its health benefits.

Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian, appeared on NBC’s "The Today Show" and urged consumers to eat at least 10 grams of resistant starch a day. Average consumption now is about 4 grams per day, she said.

D. Milton Stokes, another registered dietitian, wrote in the March 2008 issue of Prevention magazine: "Amazing new research puts spuds squarely at the center of the latest weight loss buzz, along with other unfairly maligned carbs such as corn and rice. The reason: All these foods contain resistant starch, a unique kind of fiber you’ll be hearing a lot more about."

Finally, registered dietitian Susan Bowerman told readers of the Los Angeles Times in the June 23 issue, "Forget low-carb breads and candy bars, so popular a few years ago. Corn-derived resistant starch is making its way into breads, cereals and pastas — coming to a store near you."

Resistant starch draws its name from its ability to resist digestion.

"Natural resistant starch is breaking through to consumers because its fermentation triggers metabolism benefits not documented with other dietary fibers," said Rhonda Witwer, senior business manager, nutrition, for National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J.

She said foods with natural resistant starch have fewer calories, provide a fat-burning effect, aid in satiety, lower glycemic response, aid in energy management and support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.

Consumers may understand and notice promotions on how resistant starch may aid in digestion. According to the "2008 Food & Health Survey," a report from the Washington-based International Food Information Council, 76% of respondents agreed some specific foods or beverages may improve digestive health. Digestive health ranked near the top of the list, trailing improve heart health (78%) and improve physical energy or stamina (77%) and tied with maintain overall health and wellness (76%).

Increasing the amount of resistant starch in processed foods is a common goal among researchers. For example, thermal treatment may affect the amount of resistant starch, according to research presented July 1 at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting and Food Expo in New Orleans.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University, National Starch Food Innovation and Clover Corp Ltd., Sydney, Australia, compared several pairs of native and heat-moisture treated high-amylose maize starch. The heat-moisture treatment influenced the time course of digestion.

National Starch offers Hi-maize, a form of resistant starch made from high-amylose corn. A King Arthur flour package with Hi-maize co-branded on it appeared on "The Today Show" segment.

Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London, recently set up a web site at to promote its Promitor dietary fiber line, which includes resistant starch from corn. The web site includes a video of senior food scientist Doris Dougherty explaining the benefits of resistant starch. Cargill, Minneapolis, offers ActiStar RT, a resistant starch from tapioca.

MGP Ingredients, Atchison, Kas., creates resistant starch from wheat and offers it under its Fibersym RW and FiberRite RW lines. Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., this year entered into a sublicense agreement with MGP Ingredients and gained the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell resistant potato starch in the United States under a patent which is licensed to MGP Ingredients by the Kansas State University Research Foundation.

Some researchers divide starch into three categories: rapidly digestible, slowly digestible and resistant starch. Another research study at the I.F.T. event examined how hydrothermal treatments affected the slowly-digestible starch in potato starch. Researchers from Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, reported hydrothermal treatment followed by storage at 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) for 12 hours increased the slowly-digestible starch content.

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