We are becoming increasingly aware about the dangers of certain foods and more eager to find healthier alternatives with better nutritional profiles. Carbohydrates in particular have been demonized and low-carb diets like the Atkin’s diet have become ever more popular.
With that in mind, I was very interested to learn that Hi-maize was being lauded as a healthy starch that could actually help you to lose weight. But not only does this resistant starch possibly help keep your waist line in check, it also helps improve digestive health, keeps blood sugar under control and helps balance your energy levels during the day.
What is High-Maize?
Hi-maize is a type of resistant starch derived from high amylose corn. It contains a high level of non-digestible starch and is rich in dietary fibers. As well as potentially helping people to control their weight, it delivers several other important health benefits. According to research, Hi-maize can improve digestive health, boost energy and help manage blood sugar levels.
What are Resistant Starches?
Most types of starch get digested then absorbed in the body via the small intestine. However, some types of starch actually resist digestion at this stage passing through into your large intestine where they get digested through fermentation. This starch is known as resistant starch and is defined formally as the total starch that resists digestion within the small intestine of a healthy person.
The Importance of Resistant Starch
Studies have consistently found a link between a high intake of dietary fibers like whole grains with a reduced risk of disease. Studies indicate that high fiber diets can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
A study published in 2011 demonstrated that a high dietary intake of fiber was linked to a significant reduction in death from respiratory diseases, infections and heart disease. This very large scale study involved 388,000 adults aged from 50 to 70 and clearly demonstrates the importance of dietary fiber to our health. (1)
While the research is relatively new, we have long been told to eat more fiber. Unfortunately the average American gets far less fiber into their diet than they should. As we eat more and more processed foods, so our intake of resistant starch and other dietary fibers has fallen.
A study published in 2008 revealed that the average American consumes around 5 grams of healthy resistant starch each day. This is well below the recommended daily intake of 15-20 grams a day.
Sources of Resistant Starch
Resistant starch can be found in certain foods including legumes like white beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas. It is also found in certain fruit like slightly green and unripe bananas. Certain whole grains like brown rice, pearl barley and rolled oats also contain resistant starch.
Other than natural food sources, you can also increase your intake by using Hi-maize. This resistant starch is found in a number of commercial products like pasta, bread and certain snacks.
Hi-maize can also be purchased in bulk and used as an ingredient that can boost your intake of resistant starch. You can add it to smoothies, soups or baking recipes. Using Hi-maize as an ingredient is a simple way to increase your resistant starch intake. A single tablespoon will provide you with around five grams of nutritious dietary fiber and help get you closer to the recommended daily dose with little fuss.
You can buy Hi-maize from King Arthur Flour which you can substitute for up to a quarter of the regular flour you use in many recipes. The same company also sells a high-fiber flour product which is a combination of regular flour and Hi-maize that you can use as a complete substitute for your regular flour in any recipe that needs flour.
Health Benefits of Hi-Maize
Now that you know what Hi-maize is, I am sure you are interested in the specific ways that it can benefit your health and overall well-being. Over the past few decades, over 200 studies on the health benefits of resistant starch have been published with a number looking at Hi-maize in particular. The following are the main health benefits of Hi-maize according to research:
1) Blood Sugar Control
According to research, resistant starch like Hi-maize helps maintain a person’s blood sugar levels in several ways making it useful for people with diabetes or at risk of diabetes.
First if all, when used as a substitute for regular flour, resistant starch reduces the short term glycemic response of your food as well as lowering the insulin response. (2)
Resistant starch like Hi-maize also improves the body’s insulin sensitivity. According to health claims authorized by the FDA, products made with Hi-maize can now communicate the link between their product and a reduction in the risk if a person developing type 2 diabetes. Hi-maize can both improve insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes and in healthy people.
2) Energy Management
This point is linked to the way in which Hi-Maize can help control blood glucose levels. We all experience fluctuations in levels of blood sugar throughout each day. Reduced glycemic food containing resistant starch like Hi-Maize help to balance a person’s levels of energy in the hours after they have eaten a meal.
3) Digestive Health
You probably do not need to be told that maintaining proper digestive health is vital to overall physical and mental well-being. Hi- maize can help improve your digestive health in a number of ways.
One of the ways in which you can improve your digestive health is by increasing the gut’s level of beneficial bacteria while simultaneously suppressing the harmful bacteria that inhabits the intestines. Hi-maize effectively acts as a type of prebiotic fiber and can improve the balance of the gut’s microflora. (3)
Hi-maize also promotes more regular bowel movements and has very gentle laxative effects on the body. Not only can it help ease constipation but it can also help treat and ease bouts of diarrhea.
Hi-maize also helps to maintain the health of the colon’s cells by boosting the production of short-chain fatty acids especially butyrate which is known to be essential in colon health.
4) Weight Control
Is it possible that substituting your regular flour for resistant starch can help you lose some of the weight? Possibly but there is little evidence that this is the case. A tablespoon of Hi-maize contains just ten calories and as part of an overall diet plan, it may help.
But do not expect the pounds to start falling off. Unless you are using Hi-Maize as part of an overall diet plan, the weight loss effects are highly unlikely to be dramatic.
Having said that, researchers have reported that people feel fuller after eating products containing Hi-Maize. By satiating the appetite, people are less likely to eat quite as much throughout the day and over a period of time, this may result in some weight loss.
What About the Negative Side Effects?
There are no real health concerns when it comes to Hi-maize. According to research, you can safely consume large quantities -up to 45 grams each day of resistant starch each day without experiencing any adverse side effects. Hi-maize doesn’t cause many of the side effects common with other types of fiber such as bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and diarrhea.