Leonardo da Vinci produced more than 500 sketches of flying machines. One, the helical air screw, was designed to be made from starched linen molded into a screw-shaped device. Unfortunately, he never got it built — maybe he needed more starch.
It turns out that lots of folks need more starch. A study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research reveals that resistant starches — such as the fiber found in bananas, potatoes, grains, dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, and seeds — help protect people from an array of what are called “Lynch syndrome cancers.”
These are cancers of the stomach, duodenum, bile duct, colon, pancreas, brain, kidney, liver, and endometrium that are related to an inherited genetic condition. There are more than 200,000 cases diagnosed annually in the U.S.
As a model of cancer development, the researchers from Newcastle University in the U.K. tracked people with Lynch syndrome for 20 years and found that just 5.8% of those who got 30 grams of resistant starch daily (in pill form) developed Lynch syndrome cancers, while 10.5% of those receiving placebo did.
Lynch syndrome mutations may be identified through a blood test or a biopsy of cancerous tissue. And regular bowel screening (colonoscopy) along with aspirin can reduce the risk for colorectal cancer in people with Lynch syndrome.
Unfortunately, other forms of Lynch syndrome can be difficult to detect and manage, making a diet rich in resistant starches especially important.
For recipes containing resistant starches, take a look at my "What to Eat When Cookbook."