Resistant Starch: how to transform the carbs you eat through cooling

High-carb diets are hard to avoid when there are so many sugary and starchy foods on offer. But what if there was a way to transform the starchy foods you eat so that they are healthier for you? In this article we will examine a type of starch that doesn’t get digested the same way as most starches, how eating more of it may have health benefits, and better yet – how to easily add it to your diet by just preparing food differently.

Resistant Starch and Healthier Carbohydrates

What is resistant starch?

Starchy foods like potatoes, rice and pasta often make up the primary sources of carbohydrates in modern diets. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that is a natural component of many plants, therefore it is often found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Typically, starch is broken down by enzymes in the small intestine into glucose, which is used for energy by the body. This is why your blood sugar increases after eating starch.

 

How is resistant starch different?

Resistant starch gets its name because it is resistant to digestion. Unlike other starches, when it passes through the small intestine it does not break down into glucose and raise your blood sugar. It instead passes through to the large intestine where it ferments, similar to dietary fibre. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic, meaning it provides ‘food’ for the good bacteria in your gut. Resistant starches also have less calories per gram than regular starches. Researchers suggest that eating more of it may have many powerful health benefits including aiding digestion, weight-loss, blood sugar regulation, and appetite reduction.

How to add resistant starch without changing your diet

Adding resistant starch to your diet is easy, it may not even require you to change what you’re eating! Type 3 resistant starch is formed when foods like potatoes, rice and pasta are cooked and then cooled. Through the process of starch retrogradation the starches’ structure changes and becomes resistant to digestion. We can use this process to our advantage to increase the amount of resistant starch in the starchy foods we already are eating.

 

If you eat rice, potatoes, pasta, and beans try cooking them a day in advance and cool in the refrigerator overnight. The amount of resistant starch will increase significantly compared to the freshly cooked starchy food. This will also lower the blood glucose response after eating.

 

It is important to know that reheating starchy foods is fine, and the resistant starch will remain largely the same or similar after reheating.

What are the health benefits of resistant starch?

Studies have shown that resistant starch has various and wide-reaching health benefits. As a prebiotic, resistant starch can promote the creation of more good bacteria, boosting the health of our gut microbiome which has an influential role in our overall health.

 

Resistant starch is very effective at reducing the rise in blood sugar levels after a meal and improves insulin sensitivity which is crucial for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Low insulin sensitivity is a major risk factor for serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and metabolic syndrome.

 

As mentioned, resistant starch has around half the calories than regular starch. Therefore, the more resistant starch a food has, the fewer calories it will have. It is believed that like soluble fibre supplements, resistant starch may also affect your appetite, making you feel fuller and less hungry.

 

The microbiome of our gut plays an important role in many aspects of our health. It not only helps your body control digestion but may support a range of other processes in the body. By improving our gut microbiome scientists suggest we can support our immune systems, lower risk of constipation, lower risk of colon cancer, lower cholesterol levels, and lower risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

What are the four different types of resistant starches?

Experts divide resistant starch into four types that have slightly different characteristics.

 

Type 1 are found in seeds, grains, and in some dense starch foods like legumes. This type of starch is bound within fibrous cell walls so it’s difficult to digest unless it’s processed (e.g., milled or ground).

 

Type 2 are indigestible due to them being compact and hard to break down. They are found in some starchy foods like green (unripe) bananas, and raw potatoes.

 

Type 3 are formed in certain starchy foods that have been cooked and cooled. Through a process called retrogradation some of the digestible starches turn into resistant starches when they cool.

 

Type 4 is a chemically modified type of starch, which are used as a food additive.

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