We’re going bananas for banana starch at GMB HQ, but what exactly is this ‘new’ health food and what’s all the fuss about its role in gut health? Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine gives us the lowdown.
Derived from green bananas, banana starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion…so while we’re able to digest some starches after we eat them, we aren’t able to digest others – like banana starch – a ‘resistant starch’. Other foods rich in resistant starch include:
- Legumes (beans and lentils)
- Whole grains (their starch content is confined to their tough cell walls)
- Potatoes and rice that have been cooked and cooled…pass the potato salad ;)
Before we chat about what banana starch can do for your digestion, don’t worry - you don’t have to actually eat green bananas to reap the benefits...banana starch is now available in an isolated, naturally derived, flour-like form; we personally love it in Natural Evolutions Foods’ Smoothie Mix, where the starch from cold-pressed Lady Finger bananas is mixed with a few delicious and nutritious ingredients (think organic sprouted brown rice protein, and cacao or vanilla…delish blended with frozen banana and your favourite milk).
So if banana starch can’t be digested, how do we benefit from it? Here’s how:
Promotes Good Gut Bacteria
Because resistant starch bypasses digestion in the stomach and small intestine, banana starch arrives intact in the large intestine (colon). Here it serves as a prebiotic, food for the large intestine’s beneficial bacteria, i.e., your probiotics, which need fuel like this to survive and thrive, and in turn, help keep our gut bacteria happy and balanced.
Promotes Colon Health
After resistant starch is digested by our good gut bacteria, it turns into short-chain fatty acids, including ‘butyrate’; the most desirable source of energy for the cells lining the colon, butyrate can be particularly beneficial for short and long term colon health and improved digestive function.
Because banana starch can’t be broken down until it reaches the large intestine, it becomes a fermented product. So, its digestion process once it arrives in the colon can start to get things moving, if you know what I mean.