TweetDon’t turn your back on pasta, potatoes, or peas just yet—new research shows they may actually be the key to improving your health while shedding fat.
BY ELIZABETH WARD, M.S., R.D.
Feeling pretty good about cutting out pasta, potatoes, and other starchy fare from your diet? Not so fast: Research shows you may actually be missing out on a slew of health benefits, including a sleeker physique. That’s because all high-carb foods are not created equal. Some are rich in resistant starch, which actually promotes weight loss, plus a whole lot more.
Resistant starch is a type of fiber found in certain plant foods, including beans, corn, and bread. As the name implies, this starch “resists” digestion in the small intestine, which prevents your body from absorbing the calories it contains. By the time resistant starch makes its way to the colon, specific types of good bacteria feed on it to produce short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate .
1. It Torches Fat
Studies done with both humans and animals show that a diet rich in resistant starch decreases body fat. Here’s how: While most of the butyrate produced from resistant starch remains in the colon to support gut health, some of the short-chain fatty acids also travel to the liver, where they prevent the organ from releasing stored carbohydrates into the bloodstream, prompting the body to burn body fat for energy instead.
2. It Steadies Energy Levels
Foods with resistant starch help slow the rise of blood glucose levels after eating, providing long-lasting energy. Other carb-rich foods like crackers, chips, and cookies are quickly digested, resulting in sharp spikes in blood glucose that must be reduced with insulin. Keeping blood glucose within normal limits is important in the long run, because it reduces wear and tear on your body. The more often the pancreas is called upon to produce insulin, the greater the risk of type-2 diabetes over time.
3. It's Heart Healthy
Reduced blood glucose levels also contribute to stronger arteries that allow greater blood flow to the heart and the extremities.
Resistant starch helps lower levels of artery-clogging cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in the blood, which maximizes the flow of blood and nutrients to your heart, brain, and working muscles.
4. It Tames Hunger
Animal studies suggest that resistant starch prompts the production of certain hormones that shut off hunger, so you feel satisfied while eating less. In addition, resistant starch takes longer to digest than other types of carbohydrates, and it promotes feelings of fullness for hours after eating. Just make sure to keep your meals balanced: One study in particular found that women who combined protein with resistant starch at the same meal felt fuller, had greater eating satisfaction, and burned more body fat than women who ate either protein or resistant starch.
5. It's Good for Your Gut
Butyrate produced from resistant starch provides energy for the cells in the colon that keep the lining of the gut in shape and help the body to dodge ailments like colon cancer and irritable bowel disease (also known as IBD). Butyrate is also a food source for the trillions of healthy bacteria that live in your gut. Higher levels of good gut bacteria are linked to a stronger immune system, reducing risk for infection.
6. Find the Best Foods
Ready to start starching up? As with everything else in nutrition, moderation is still your best bet.
Legumes (black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans), white and sweet potatoes, under ripe bananas, pasta, and all kinds of rice are among the top whole-food sources of resistant starch. Some packaged foods contain Hi-maize, a commercial, corn-based resistant starch powder. Check the ingredient list for foods with cornstarch, resistant cornstarch, or Hi-maize, which is also packaged as a flour replacer. The starch is useful when making baked goods; you can swap as much as one-third of the flour in recipes for the brand.
Be aware: Too much supplemental resistant starch may interfere with the absorption of other nutrients, and it could make you gassy, which is almost never a good thing. Instead, focus on whole foods, which also include plenty of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
7. Prep Notes
How you prepare these foods can also have an affect on how much of the starch you’re consuming. Cooked and cooled versions of grains, as well as vegetables like legumes and potatoes, provide significantly more resistant starch than when these foods are cooked and still warm. That’s because cooling will transform digestible starch to resistance starch—a process called retro-gradation. Your body is unable to fully digest the resistant starch or use it for energy, so the calorie count naturally decreases, which is a similar principle to net carbs. When researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka cooked white rice with a bit of coconut oil and chilled it for 12 hours, it increased the amount of resistant starch tenfold, while cutting calories by about half. But there’s no need to eat your dinner cold: Reheating rice doesn’t change the resistant starch concentrations.
8. Two Resistant Starch Recipes to Try
BANANA & SWEET POTATO SMOOTHIE
1 under ripe banana
1⁄2 large sweet potato, peeled, cooked, and cooled
Pinch cinnamon 1 ice cube
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Calories: 289, Fat: 5g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 54g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 11g, Sodium: 147mg
PASTA & BEAN SALAD
1 1⁄2 cups cooked orzo or other small pasta, cooled
1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1⁄4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Chopped fresh dill (for garnish)
In a large serving bowl, combine pasta, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add dressing to pasta mixture and combine well. Top with feta cheese and dill.
Calories: 253, Fat: 14g, Saturated fat: 3g, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 8g, Sodium: 154mg
TweetI do not like the phrase "It Torches Fat" because it does not. It might give you a nice bit of energy to work to burn fat but hormonally it has a propensity to store fat. Especially PASTA which is listed. Other than this I like the article. That said, put one person on a high starch diet and another on a low starch diet all other factors being the same. The low starch looses more weight 99X out of a hundred.
SO it is good for the gut.....other than gas HAHA
also under ripe bananas are great. they do not taste as good but have far less sugar. good article.