Amilose: What is it? Structure, Benefits, Risks, Secondary Effects and Natural Sources

It has benefits for the body such as helping the body maintain a healthy bowel and possibly addressing the biological causes of psychological problems.

Amylose is the name of a particular type of compound and is classified as a polysaccharide. It is a chain of linear polymers containing hundreds or thousands of glucose molecules.

These polysaccharides are chains of linked carbohydrate molecules. Starch contains two of these chains: amylose and amylopectin.

The latter represents approximately 70 to 80 percent of the starch compound, while amylose represents the other 20 to 30 percent.

Amylose is a resistant starch (a type of insoluble fiber), which means it is not digested but fermented in the intestine by some strains of healthy bacteria.


The amylose has the shape of a straight chain (C6H10O5) n, it is positioned in the parts of the starch compounds that are more difficult to access to avoid digestion.

This form also makes it more difficult to gelatinize, an important part of the digestive process.

However, not all amylose chains are the same.

The types are divided into four basic categories, labeled “AR” which means resistant starch, the term used interchangeably to refer to amylose.

  • AR1: is “physically unavailable starch”. The intestine can not break down these molecules because it does not have the necessary enzymes. This type is commonly found in seeds, legumes and grain foods.
  • AR2: refers to foods rich in amylose with non-digestible starch in the raw state of food. It is found in potatoes, bananas and green plantains. If these elements are cooked, the starch changes shape and becomes digestible.
  • AR3: or “retrograde AR”, is the state of starch after cooking food with the types AR1 or AR2 and then let them cool. You can reheat these foods at temperatures below 130 degrees without converting the starch into a digestible compound.
  • AR4: is a synthetic variety, such as “starch resistant to high corn content”, is not recommended by most advocates of natural health, because it is not absorbed in the same way as the amylose of organic whole foods.

Health benefits exponentially if it maintains a diverse intestinal microbiome.

To achieve this diversity, it is important to eat a range of foods that contain several nutrients vital to the digestion process, including prebiotics such as amylose.

If it contains the right elements in the digestive process, it can protect your health in several ways:

  • Protection against bacterial colonization that causes infections, such as Clostridium difficile.
  • Promoting the production of biotin, folic acid and vitamin K, which can not be produced anywhere else in the body.
  • Decompose toxins including carcinogens.
  • Keep the metabolism and the immune system healthy.
  • Reducing insulin resistance and the risk of obesity.
  • Encourage the production of butyrate, which decreases the risk of digestive cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

Amylose is known as the “non-sticky starchy starch” commonly in the kitchen.

It does not dissolve in water, and high levels of amylose help the beans, such as rice and beans, maintain their shape.

Currently, in food manufacturing, some companies often use amylose as a stabilizer and thickener for their production.

Benefits of amylose

Functions as a useful prebiotic:

A particularly significant benefit of amylose is the way it functions as a prebiotic.

These non-digestible compounds reach the colon without being digested, where they are fermented by the intestinal microflora.

While most prebiotics are fibrous and are classified chemically as oligosaccharides, amylose is one of the types of prebiotics that are not fibers.

However, not all types of amylose are the same.

In laboratory tests, the amylose in lotus seeds and purple potatoes outperforms the one found in high-amylose corn starch (AR4) by producing healthy intestinal bacteria more efficiently.

Prebiotics help maintain a good intestinal microflora, which in turn influences all the internal systems of the body. This is the characteristic that makes them so effective to improve health in many ways.

Immunity boosts:

One of those benefits of good intestinal bacteria is an enhanced immune response.

In general, prebiotic foods cause the “prebiotic effect”, which refers to the decrease in the concentration of cancer-promoting enzymes and bacterial metabolites in the intestine that can cause diseases.

It can reduce weight and help prevent obesity :

The weight loss properties of amylose are often debated, but there is some initial evidence that foods rich in amylose can help fight obesity.

Research has reported that people who ate large amounts of “fermentable carbohydrates” or foods rich in amylose, found an improvement in glucose tolerance for that meal and the next.

This is known as the “second meal effect” and speaks of the long-term potential benefits of the intake of resistant starch in weight.

It could decrease the risk factors of heart disease:

The healthy impact to the heart of the resistant starch is also found in the early research stages.

However, in at least two studies in humans it was discovered that amylose has the ability to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

More evidence is needed to definitely qualify the risk reduction of heart disease as a clear benefit of amylose, but the results are promising so far.

It could relieve the symptoms of diabetes:

The body of each person works univocally, but there is research suggesting that foods rich in amylose could help patients to reverse diabetes naturally.

On the one hand, foods with high concentrations of amylose are generally low in the glycemic index, which means that insulin levels will not increase.

A key factor in the chronic nature of diabetes is insulin resistance, or the body’s ability to process glucose efficiently.

Eating resistant starch can improve glucose tolerance, provide satiety, reduce weight in some cases and decrease inflammation associated with diabetes.

The way in which amylose works, implies that the best results to relieve the symptoms of diabetes is to eat a combination of insoluble fibers such as amylose and soluble fiber for a long period of time.

Potentially reduces the risk of colon cancer:

A commonly sought benefit of prebiotics and resistant starch, in particular, is a possible reduction in the risk of colon cancer .

In several studies, scientists completed a review of the potential of resistant starch to help prevent and control chronic diseases in humans, including obesity, diabetes and colon cancer.

They stated that introductory research in humans has provided promising results in the mechanisms of resistant starch to prevent colon cancer.

Another review of resistant starch focused on its role in weight loss and maintenance also mentioned a correlation between amylose and a lower risk of colon cancer in animals.

A possible reason why resistant starch could play a major role in the development of colon cancer is the association of low levels of resistant starch and the production of carcinogenic bile acids, such as deoxycholate.

It can decrease the risk of dental caries:

According to several studies carried out by dentists worldwide, the potential of amylose-rich foods as a nutritional element used to prevent tooth decay is recognized.

This is probably because this starch does not gelatinize like many other starches.

It could improve neurological symptoms:

There is the interaction of the intestine with the central nervous system.

Bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can activate the pathways involved in the signaling of the brain and nervous system.

Understanding this connection has been an approach in recent years to help scientists develop new approaches to prevent and treat mental illness.

It seems that the healthy intestinal microbiota can be connected to cases of many neurological problems, such as depression , dementia, anxiety , schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and bipolar disorder.

Perhaps most notably, it is the discussion about the potential of resistant starch to improve intestinal health and prevent or alleviate the symptoms of autism.

Research suggests that healthy digestive bacteria correlate strongly with a lower risk of autism.

In addition, the researchers suggest that the neurobehavioral problems related to autism could be alleviated by adjusting the gut microbiota.

This is a possible reason why nutrition specialists currently recommend the introduction of options to maintain adequate intestinal health at a younger age, in order to help control or prevent autism.

Part of a curative diet for permeable intestines:

It is probably now obvious from research that foods with high amylose content have a positive impact on the digestive system.

That is probably the reason why resistant starch can help in the treatment of leaky gut, a problem with the patency of the bowel that leads to a series of symptoms, including thyroid conditions, headaches, swelling, sensitivities to food, among others.

One way you can achieve this is by increasing the concentration of butyrate, a fatty acid that is very involved in intestinal health.

By increasing the butyrate in the intestine, the resistant starch decreases inflammation and improves the intestinal barrier responsible for the symptoms of the leaky gut.

Possible risks and side effects

  1. It could aggravate digestive problems.
  2. It can increase the side effects of certain medications or supplements.
  3. Probably not recommended for patients with cystic fibrosis .
  4. It is not recommended for people with mold exposure.
  5. It could make certain inflammatory diseases worse.
  6. It could contribute to gluten intolerance.

It could aggravate digestive problems:

Resistant starch has the ability to cause gastrointestinal problems in certain people.

Specifically, this affects people who suffer from bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.

This refers to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, instead of the colon.

Diseases in the digestive tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease and celiac disease, are related to bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.

Due to the inability of the small intestine to pass resistant starch before it reaches the large intestine, people with these disorders probably minimize their total starch intake.

You can increase the side effects of certain medications or supplements:

Certain medications, such as diabetes medications and weight-loss supplements, known as starch blockers, probably interact negatively with the consumption of resistant starch.

This is because they inhibit the enzymes that help in digestion.

The consumption of large amounts of amylose in combination with any of these can increase side effects, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence and other gastrointestinal problems.

Probably not recommended for patients with cystic fibrosis:

Closely related is the fact that patients with cystic fibrosis probably do not benefit from the high levels of resistant starch in their diets.

Patients with cystic fibrosis have the well-documented deficiencies of digestive enzymes, including those that ferment starch, which often cause heartburn and other gastrointestinal complications.

People with cystic fibrosis have a risk of bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine about three times higher than people who do not have the disease.

It is not recommended for people with mold exposure:

People who have been exposed to mold or other fungal toxins have a higher level of the enzyme metalloproteinase 9, a zinc-dependent enzyme that can cause damage if it occurs too high in the body.

Some sources suggest that following a diet without amylose is a way to reduce the levels of the enzyme metalloproteinase 9, so if you have been exposed to mold or toxins, it is advisable to consult with your doctor about dietary practices that will improve or worsen your condition .

It could make certain inflammatory diseases worse:

While foods rich in amylose can help reduce inflammation in some cases, there is at least one exception.

The inflammatory conditions under the group “spondyloarthropathies” are probably caused by a specific pathogen, Klebsiella pneumoniae, which is sensitive to starches.

Two of these diseases are Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis , which is a type of arthritis that affects the spinal joints.

If you have or are at higher risk for these diseases, you would probably benefit more from a low-starch or non-starchy diet, such as the ketogenic diet.

It could contribute to gluten intolerance:

An intolerance to products with gluten, without celiac disease, has been found in many healthy people.

This is more likely due to the inflammation caused by gluten, but other factors can influence your body’s tolerance to foods that contain gluten.

Some experts suggest that gluten intolerance can be aggravated or worsened by diets high in starch.

Foods with high amylose content

Some foods rich in amylose include:

  • Seeds, nuts and legumes, which must be soaked for hours before cooking in order to eliminate harmful antinutrients such as the lectin, which interferes with the absorption of nutrients.
  • Some bread products or their derivatives (adhere to the options germinated or whole grain).
  • The products that contain corn.
  • Oats and barley
  • Bananas (immature and cooked varieties have the highest amount of amylose).
  • Raw starches and flours.
  • The rice (especially cooked).
  • Most vegetables and root tubers, such as cassava, yams, boiled and cooled potatoes and tapioca pearls.
  • Unmodified potato starch.

It is recommended to consume the unmodified potato starch, as a complement of food products to increase the intake of resistant starch, since these have the highest amount of amylose than any other food product per serving.

It is recommended to add it to a milkshake in the morning or to a soup at night.

Foods with low amylose content

Foods with a high amylose content have a low glycemic index , and that is one of the ways to recognize foods low in amylose. Low amylose options include:

  • Fruits (except bananas).
  • The vegetables that grow on the ground.
  • Meat, fish and poultry.
  • The sandwiches and sugary treats.
  • The breads and tortillas processed.

Amylose vs. Amylopectin

The other compound found in starch, amylopectin, has a very different physical form and behaves differently in food and body.

Here are the main differences and similarities between amylose and amylopectin:

  • Amylose constitutes 20 to 30 percent of the starch compounds, while amylopectin constitutes 80 to 80 percent of these compounds.
  • Amylose is a “linear chain polymer”, which means that it has a straight chemically form. In contrast, amylopectin is a ” branched-chain polymer ” and therefore has a more complex chemical form.
  • Amylose is soluble in hot water and will not swell or become a gel. On the other hand, amylopectin is not as soluble in hot water and tends to thicken and gel.
  • Amylose is not soluble in cold water, while amylopectin can dissolve in cold water.
  • Amylose is a resistant starch, whereas amylopectin is more easily digested since it is easily broken down into glucose.
  • Both amylose and amylopectin are compounds that are formed exclusively by plants.
  • Rice with high amylose content is very firm and tends to separate easily, while rice with high amylopectin content is sticky and very soft.
  • Amylose stores a large amount of energy, while amylopectin does not store as much energy in portions per gram.
  • Amylose and amylopectin are the components of starch, which is the polysaccharide that plants use to store their energy.