REASONS TO COOK, COOL, THEN REHEAT RICE, POTATOES, & PASTA Michaela Mackenzie and other article writers have provide brief but understandable pieces about the health benefits of eating ‘resistant starch’ (RS).
The benefits, backed up by scientific research, include prevention of obesity caused by high fat diets, calorie reduction for weight loss purposes, better metabolic control (decreased blood glucose levels, improved insulin sensitivity, and lowered serum cholesterol levels), and colonic health.
RS receives its name from the finding that the its structure allows it to escape digestion and absorption in the upper gastrointestinal tract, acting like dietary fiber. Instead RS arrives in the large intestine (colon) where it can be acted upon by beneficial bacteria, fermented, and converted to healthy lipids (small chain fatty acids), like a pre-biotic.
Ingesting carbohydrate rich-foods with a greater percent RS generally lead to a low glycemic response for this reason. If starch isn’t broken down to glucose, which than will not be absorbed in the small intestine, there won’t be as much glucose making its way into the blood stream (glycemia) after a meal.
Also, because of the decreased absorption, RS foods will contribute less calories to the diet (2-3 calories per gram of carbohydrate rather than the usual 4 calories per gram CHO).
Starch in some raw foods can avoid digestion because it’s form causes it to be inaccessible to enzyme action (RS1 type). Other starch foods contain granules that resist digestion (RS2). Some starch in cooked food actually loses resistance after heating, but it reverts back to a resistant form if allowed to cool (it’s called retrograded starch, RS3). Artificially, starch can be structurally modified to become resistant (RS4).
The Mackenzie article and others like it correctly champion the research that the cooled, previously cooked rice, potatoes, pasta, and even bread is higher in RS3. Leftovers assume a much more valued place at the table, once cooled and re-eaten they indicate, because of the boosted RS percent.
Whatever the health benefits, eating COLD starch may not sound appealing to all. Yes, there are cold salads that we might enjoy as a side dish. Potato and pasta salads, for example. Some authors suggest letting French fries sit in the refrigerator before eating. And consuming cold oatmeal in the morning. Really?
There’s great news if you would rather eat warm food. ADDITIONAL RESEARCH shows that several cycles of heating and cooling increase the amount of RS in foods. Scientific studies have looked at rice and potatoes and found this to be true. It’s possible that pasta, oats, legumes, and even bread (toast) that has been cooled then reheated will contain more RS too!
Our family thinks that stew, marinara, and meat sauce tends to improve after being cooled and re-warmed. I make a big pot at night, place it in an ice bath to take away most of the heat, then put it away in the refrigerator for complete cooling. The next day, most is frozen in containers for future meals, but one batch is reserved for that night’s dinner. It would be convenient if pasta (noodles) can receive similar treatment with the same health benefit; boil rinse, cool, then re-heat (it won’t freeze well).
The discussion on RS makes a great argument for preparing meals in advance, which are then cooled, perhaps frozen, and then re-warmed. And if there are leftover leftovers, foods undergoing a second or third cooling-reheating cycle will be all that much better it seems, in terms of metabolic health.
There's an indication that pressure cooking starches may lead to higher percentages of RS in starches.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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