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Healthy benefits of cold cooked pasta?

April 11, 2013

 

 

Many carb lovers worry about pasta making them fat. But could simply cooling and then reheating your meal make it better for you?

Most are familiar with the idea that pasta is a form of carbohydrate. Like all carbohydrates it gets broken down in your belly and then is absorbed as simple sugars, which in turn makes your blood glucose soar.

In response to a surge in blood glucose our bodies produce a rush of the hormone insulin to get your blood glucose back down to normal as swiftly as possible, because persistently high levels of glucose in the blood are extremely unhealthy.

A rapid rise in blood glucose, followed by a rapid fall, can often make you feel hungry again quite soon after a meal. It's true of sugary sweets and cakes, but it's also true for things like pasta, potatoes, white rice and white bread. That's why dieticians emphasise the importance of eating foods that are rich in fibre, as these foods produce a much more gradual rise and fall in your blood sugars.

But what if you could change pasta or potatoes into a food that, to the body, acts much more like fibre? Well, it seems you can. Cooking pasta and then cooling it down changes the structure of the pasta, turning it into something that is called "resistant starch".

It's called "resistant starch" because once pasta, potatoes or any starchy food is cooked and cooled it becomes resistant to the normal enzymes in our gut that break carbohydrates down and releases glucose that then causes the familiar blood sugar surge.

So, according to scientist Dr Denise Robertson, from the University of Surrey, if you cook and cool pasta down then your body will treat it much more like fibre, creating a smaller glucose peak and helping feed the good bacteria that reside down in your gut. You will also absorb fewer calories, making this a win-win situation.

One obvious problem is that many people aren't keen on cold pasta. So what would happen if you took the cold pasta and warmed it up?

When scientists were asked this question they said that it would probably go back to its previous, non-resistant form, but no-one had actually done the experiment. Calling any and all scientists to do the experiment!

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