Metabolic effects of digestible and partially indigestible cornstarch: a study in the absorptive and postabsorptive periods in healthy humans

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Nov;66(5):1151-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.5.1151.


To compare the effects of digestible (pregelatinized) and partially indigestible (retrograded) cornstarches on some metabolic indexes, we studied eight healthy volunteers during two periods separated by 1 wk. In each period, fasting volunteers consumed at 0800 the test meal containing either the digestible or partially indigestible cornstarch; blood and breath were sampled in the absorptive period for 8 h. To study its late effects, the same test meal as that served at 0800 was given again at 2200, and blood and breath were sampled for 3 h in the postabsorptive period the next morning, i.e., 10 h after ingestion of the test meal. In the absorptive period, blood glucose and insulin were significantly higher after ingestion of digestible cornstarch than after partially indigestible cornstarch. In the postabsorptive period concentrations of blood glucose, insulin, and fatty acids were not significantly different, whereas concentrations of blood acetate, breath hydrogen, methane, and 13CO2, and the respiratory quotient and satiety were significantly higher (P < 0.05) and concentrations of blood glycerol significantly lower (P < 0.05) after ingestion of partially indigestible cornstarch than after digestible cornstarch. We conclude that in healthy humans, digestion of partially indigestible cornstarch is slow in the small intestine and its colonic fermentation continues 10-13 h after its ingestion. Compared with pregelatinized cornstarch, the shift in starch digestion induced by retrogradation leads to a reduction in glycemic and insulinemic responses in the absorptive period and in lipolysis in the postabsorptive.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Digestion
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fermentation
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Insulin / blood
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Male
  • Methane / analysis
  • Starch / administration & dosage
  • Starch / metabolism*
  • Starch / pharmacokinetics


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Hydrogen
  • Starch
  • Methane