In just a little bit, I’m going to tell you about resistant starches, a starchy carb that’s actually good for you!
But first, starch has a bad reputation. When I hear the word, I immediately think “sugar.” That’s because starch eventually gets metabolized by the body as sugar. But not all starches are created equal. Some starchy foods get broken down very quickly.
These starchy foods should be avoided at all costs if you’re trying to manage blood sugar levels and weight. The problem with most starchy foods that are sold in the supermarket is that they are highly processed.
And the more processed a starchy food is, the faster it will spike your blood sugar. In addition to making your insulin levels higher, a blood sugar spike will eventually lead to an energy crash. That’s no fun for anybody. Just ask my husband, haha. He’s all too familiar with my mood swings when I let my guard down and have one of these high-starch foods:
- White flour
- Whole-wheat flour (Just goes to show you, don’t get tricked into thinking whole-wheat is that much healthier than regular white flour; it’s really not!)
- White bread
So what about rice and pasta? Well, they are fairly high in starch. Not the tippy-top of the list. But they have enough starch that if weight loss and blood-sugar are health concerns, you should definitely limit them.
But there’s a neat trick I want to tell you about. You’re going to be so in shock. OK, so here goes…
If you cook pasta or rice and don’t eat it right away, and instead refrigerate it and heat it up the next day, something cool happens. The starch in the rice and pasta, after it cools, turns into something nutritionists call “resistant starch.”
What is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starches resist digestion in the small intestine and take longer for the body to fully break down. They break down instead in the large intestine. So what’s the big deal about that?
Well, here’s 5 ways this can help boost your health:
- Resistant starches have a negligible effect on blood sugar levels.
- Contain prebiotic fiber, which is a soluble fiber that acts as fertilizer for your healthy gut bacteria.
- Because it benefits your healthy gut bacteria, resistant starch can support your immune system. About 70% of your immune system is in your gut!
- And because it takes longer to digest, resistant starch helps you feel full for longer.
- Research shows that resistant starch lowers the risk of developing colon cancer.
Best Sources of Resistant Starch
Next time you go to the supermarket, put these foods on your list:
- White beans
- Green-tipped bananas
- Arrowroot starch flour
- Banana flour
- Konjac flour (glucomannan flour)
Resistant Starches: Cool Carbs
Again, let me repeat: you can have your rice and pasta and eat ‘em, too. Just make sure you cool them overnight in the fridge before you eat it. And no, you don’t have to eat your grains icecold. You can nuke it in the microwave and the resistant starch will remain. This is one instance when eating a fresh, home-cooked meal isn’t the best thing for your health.
Don’t take this tip as a free pass to overindulge in starchy carbs. You should still limit your intake of grains. But isn’t it nice to know there are some starchy carbs out there you don’t have to be afraid of eating? Resist the temptation to eat most supermarket carbs. But have a little fun with resistant starches.
Hey, if you’re struggling with your diet and health goals, I’d love to help. The new you starts with a discovery call. I look forward to connecting with you!
Jenna Witt, NP, Functional Medicine Practitioner and Certified Health Coach