Rather listen than read?
When I first starting learning about carbohydrates, I knew what I knew by what I would read in the mainstream health info.
Said in my best newscaster voice…
Carbs are bad, unless they are whole grain.
Carbs make you fat. Go Keto.
Carbs give you energy, but don’t eat too many.
Make sure to count your carbs and cut out the sugar.
Carbs, aka carbohydrates or starches, get such a bad reputation. They have been labeled as bad, unless they have fiber, then they might be good. But is this the truth?
Let’s use the term starches (you will understand in a minute) to make this easier…
The reality is that starches are neither good nor bad. Some starches are more life giving and others are more life depleting. You probably have heard the basics of what are better than others, but today, I am going to talk about a specific kind of starch that can help you lose weight and get your blood sugar under control.
These starches are quite life-giving!
Why do starches get such a bad reputation? When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. When that happens, that spikes your blood glucose and causes the plethora of issues that go hand in hand with imbalanced blood sugar.
Let’s dive deeper and get a tad sciency…
What Is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is a kind of starch that is not digested in the small intestine, hence its name. It is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As it ferments, it becomes a yummy food for the good bacteria in the gut, helping to increase the health of your gut. This yummy food is called a prebiotic.
There are many kind of prebiotics such as inulin from Jerusalem artichokes and chicory. Or soluble fiber from psyllium husks. Or even vegetables such as green bananas (the more ripe they become, the more they turn into a regular starch) and plantains and potatoes. Keep reading for specific foods high in resistant starch and how to use them…
Resistant starch is super helpful in controlling your blood glucose (blood sugar) and helping you to lose weight. This happens because the good bacteria in your gut processes it, creating beneficial molecules that promote balanced blood sugar and healthy gut flora. In layman’s terms? Resistant starch resists digestion and does not spike your insulin or your blood glucose.
Yay, for resistant starch!
It goes even further than improving your gut health; Resistant starch increases your feeling of being full, helps to relieve constipation, decreases cholesterol, and lowers your risk of colon cancer.
Food Sources and How To Add More Resistant Starch
The amount of resistant starch changes with heat. Cooking a starch, like potatoes or rice, and then cooling it off and not reheating it, transforms that starch into a resistant starch. For example, cooked rice that has been cooled is higher in resistant starch than rice that was cooked and not cooled. That is one way. Another kind of resistant starch, like those found in oats, green bananas, and plantains lose some of their power when cooked.
Choose foods such as:
- Whole grains such as oats
- Beans, peas, and lentils
- Plantains and green bananas
- Cooked and cooled rice and potatoes
- Other prebiotic foods such as chicory, dandelion leaves, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks
Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate resistant starch into your diet:
- Cool cooked beans and legumes for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator to increase the level of resistant starch. Add them to salads, soups, or as a taco topping. You can also use canned whole beans or refried beans.
- Try making overnight oats by soaking them in yogurt, almond milk or another non-dairy milk, or milk.
- Cook rice, potatoes, and beans a day in advance and cool in the refrigerator overnight. It’s ok to reheat the starch before eating. Reheating doesn’t decrease the amount of resistant starch. It’s the initial cooling process that is important.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of powered potato starch to your yogurt or smoothie
- Eat more prebiotic foods as mentioned above by adding them to salads or in soups. Try eating them daily if you can.
Just remember, when increasing your fiber intake, especially resistant starch, start slowly. Resistant starch can change the bugs in your gut and cause gas, known as the die-off affect. As the good bugs come in, they have a little war with the bad bugs and this can cause gas and bloating. As your gut adjusts to this, so will you and that should occur much less. Remember all types of fiber have health benefits so eat a variety of fiber-containing foods.
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