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

It has benefits for the body, such as helping it 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 the other 20 to 30 percent is amylose.

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 challenging to gelatinize, an essential 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 nutrition. 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 AR1 or AR2 and then letting them cool. You can reheat these foods below 130 degrees without converting the starch into a digestible compound.
  • AR4 is a synthetic variety, such as “starch resistant to high corn content,” which most natural health advocates do not recommend because it is not absorbed in the same way as the amylose of whole organic foods.

Health benefits exponentially if it maintains a diverse intestinal microbiome.

To achieve this diversity, eating a range of foods containing several nutrients vital to digestion, including prebiotics such as amylose.

If it contains the correct 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 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 butyrate production, decreasing the risk of digestive cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

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

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 how it functions as a prebiotic.

These non-digestible compounds reach the colon without being digested, where the intestinal microflora ferments them.

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

However, not all types of amylose are the same.

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

Prebiotics help maintain an excellent intestinal microflora, which influences the body’s internal systems. This characteristic makes them so effective in improving health in many ways.

Immunity boosts:

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

Generally, 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 some initial evidence is 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 improved glucose tolerance for that meal and the next.

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

It could decrease the risk factors of heart disease:

The beneficial impact on the heart of the resistant starch is also found in the early research stages.

However, in at least two human studies, it was discovered that amylose could reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

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

It could relieve the symptoms of diabetes:

Each person’s body works univocally, but research suggests that foods rich in amylose could help patients reverse diabetes naturally.

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

A critical 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.

How amylose works imply that the best result to relieve the symptoms of diabetes is to eat a combination of insoluble fibers such as amylose and soluble fiber for an extended period.

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 preliminary human research had 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 and mentioned a correlation between amylose and a lower risk of colon cancer in animals.

A possible reason resistant starch could play a significant role in developing colon cancer is the association between 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 by dentists worldwide, the potential of amylose-rich foods as a nutritional element 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 in the brain and nervous system signaling.

In recent years, understanding this connection has been an approach to help scientists develop new strategies to prevent and treat mental illness.

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 recommend introducing options to maintain adequate intestinal health at a younger age to help control or prevent autism.

Part of a curative diet for permeable intestines:

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

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

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 can 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 and weight-loss supplements, known as starch blockers, probably interact negatively with resistant starch consumption.

This is because they inhibit the enzymes that help indigestion.

The consumption of large amounts of amylose combined 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 that patients with cystic fibrosis probably do not benefit from the high levels of resistant starch in their diets.

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

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

It is not recommended for people with mold exposure:

People 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 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 pneumonia, which is sensitive to starches.

Two of these are Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis affecting 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 gluten foods.

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 must be soaked for hours before cooking to eliminate harmful antinutrients such as 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 include cassava, yams, boiled and cooled potatoes, and tapioca pearls.
  • Unmodified potato starch.

It is recommended to consume the unmodified potato starch to complement food products to increase resistant starch intake 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 a soup at night.

Foods with low amylose content

Foods with a high amylose content have a low glycemic index, which is one way 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 bread and tortillas are processed.

Amylose vs. Amylopectin

The other compound in starch, amylopectin, has a very different physical form and behaves differently in food and the 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.
  • Amylose is a “linear chain polymer,” meaning it has a straight chemical form. In contrast, amylopectin is a ” branched-chain polymer ” with a more complex chemical structure.
  • 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 resistant to 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 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, the polysaccharide that plants use to keep their energy.