Want to supercharge the benefits of your favourite carb? Cool it.
When it comes to nutrition, there are few topics that cause as much confusion as carbohydrates. Sweeping statements made in the media like “carbs cause weight gain” have led many to believe all carbohydrates are bad for us. But the truth is, not all carbs are created equal. Did you know that reheating certain carbs can transform the way that they are used by the body, which can have a positive effect on our waistline?
The reason for this is all down to something called resistant starch. Whilst refined carbohydrates, found in white bread, biscuits and cakes, are easily absorbed by the body – enabling their associated calories to be all-too-easily stored as fat – resistant starches (so-called thanks to their resistance to digestion) are turned into short-chain fatty acids, which are much more readily burned as energy.
Wholegrains, beans, cashew nuts, raw oats and unripe bananas are packed with resistant starch but so, believe it or not, are potatoes, white pasta and rice – as long as they’ve been cooked and cooled, that is.
What is resistant starch?
The World Health Organisation states that resistant starch is the only dietary constituent that shows a convincing protective effect against weight gain. As it does not get converted to sugar quickly, it helps to control your blood sugar levels, and it also helps to improve insulin sensitivity.
Resistant starch is a starch that resists digestion. It avoids getting digested in the small intestine and ends up fermenting in the large intestine. It is sometimes also called fermentable carbohydrate. Resistant starch can be a good thing to include in your diet because these types of carbohydrates do not rapidly convert into glucose and so they are low on the glycaemic index (GI).
Resistant starch has also been found to act as a powerful prebiotic, enhancing gut health. It appears to reduce inflammation, enhance the absorption of certain minerals and decrease insulin resistance. Early research indicates that the wonder molecule may even help to prevent type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
Resistant starch : our top tips
Combining a source of resistant starch with a source of protein has been found to accelerate fat burning when compared with either resistant starch or protein alone, so pop an egg or two into your potato salad and top your leftover rice with a low-fat chicken or tofu stir fry or curry dish. This combination will not only rev up your metabolism, but also help to keep you fuller for longer.
The freezer is your friend
Slice bread and put it in the freezer. This turns some of the easily digested starch in bread into resistant starch. Toast the slice from frozen. The act of freezing and then toasting the bread means that your body gets far fewer calories from the bread. The resistant starch feeds your gut bacteria rather than feeding you.
Cool off your carbohydrates
Instead of eating pasta or rice immediately, allow it to cool, refrigerate and then reheat it. Potatoes actually have their highest level of resistant starch when they are raw. Fortunately, you can also maximize your intake by eating them cool or by reheating them. We love to include cooked potatoes in a frittata.
Rethink your breakfast oats
Use uncooked oats to make overnight oats, as these have more resistant starch than cooked oats in porridge.
It’s clear that resistant starch is more than a health buzzword. It helps to control blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, helps to feed ‘good’ bacteria in our gut, and can help us to lose weight and prevent disease.
Why not see if you can get more resistant starch into your diet by ordering a Balance Box delivery? Our chefs prepare mouth-watering recipes such as salmon with a lemon and pesto crust, served with green beans and baby potatoes, which when reheated by you, results in the development of increased resistant starch.