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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are starches?

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  • The Glycemic Index Foundation (GIF) is a not-for-profit company supported by The University of Sydney and JDRF (Australia). GIF is committed to providing Australians with … View Profile

    Starches are long chains of the sugar glucose joined together. Starches are generally not sweet tasting. There are two types of starch in food- amylose and amylopectin. The ratio of the two starches has an effect on the GI value in some foods.

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    To add to the GIF great response there are two main types of starches found in foods. Amylose and amylopectin. These starches are not sweet tasting with the type of starch (and its ratio) affecting the GI of foods.

    You can think of amylose as a long chain of glucose units (like a broomstick handle) which takes longer to break down due to its linear (straight) structure and tightly packed formation. This type of starch is an important form of resistant starch which has been found to be an important pre-biotic.

    Amylopectin also has a linear structure of glucose units but has numerous branches along the structure (looks like the leaves of a palm tree) which makes it easier for enzymes to quickly break down. 

    Foods which contain more amylose compared to amylopectin generally have a lower GI. For example sweet potato is low GI compared with a normal white potato which is high GI

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