Native cereal starches are ideal slowly digestible starches (SDS), and the structural basis for their slow digestion property was investigated. The shape, size, surface pores and channels, and degree of crystallinity of starch granules were not related to the proportion of SDS, while semicrystalline structure was critical to the slow digestion property as evidenced by loss of SDS after cooking. The high proportion of SDS in cereal starches, as compared to potato starch, was related to their A-type crystalline structure with a lower degree of perfection as indicated by a higher amount of shortest A chains with a degree of polymerization (DP) of 5-10. The A-type amorphous lamellae, an important component of crystalline regions of native cereal starches, also affect the amount of SDS as shown by a reduction of SDS in lintnerized maize starches. These observations demonstrate that the supramolecular A-type crystalline structure, including the distribution and perfection of crystalline regions (both crystalline and amorphous lamellae), determines the slow digestion property of native cereal starches.