Preventing Colon Cancer: Eat More Resistant Starch

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD


According to a new study, eating foods that are high in resistant starch may help to reduce your chances of developing colon cancer. Often referred to as the third type of dietary fiber, resistant starch has been shown to prevent DNA damage in the colon, which can lead to cancer, so increasing the amount of resistant starch in your diet now can be a positive step in preventing colon cancer in the future.

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Called resistant starch because of its ability to resist digestion, resistant starch passes through the small intestine without being broken down and moves into the large intestine, where it is fermented and aids in digestion. Though the recommended intake of resistant starch is about 20 grams, or three cups of cooked lentils per day, the average Western diet contains only about a quarter of that. Researchers suggest that increasing the intake of foods containing resistant starch could be the answer to reducing the instances of colon cancer overall, which is the second most common cancer in American men and women.

Dietary Improvements Eating more resistant starch could help prevent colon cancer

One thing that may help, researchers say, is their development of a strain of wheat that contains higher levels of resistant starch. Introducing higher levels of resistant starch to popularly grown grains will help expand opportunities for people to eat the dietary fiber, as it will be more readily available in bread and other common baked goods.

Because it takes about 15 years for the first DNA damage in your bowel to develop into full-blown cancer, it is important to improve your diet now to avoid the possibility of developing cancer in the future. Though common baked goods with higher resistant starch levels may eventually make their way to supermarkets, eating foods that are naturally great sources of fiber is an important part of maintaining good gastrointestinal health.

To ensure that you’re getting enough fiber in your diet, try eating more of these foods:

  1. Legumes: peas, beans, lentils, soy, peanuts
  2. Whole grain breads and cereals
  3. Corn
  4. Firm bananas
  5. Cooked rice, pasta and potatoes
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