Why eating pasta could help control weight

According to TIME magazine, pasta belongs to the resistant starch category of carbs, which the body turns into fatty acids to use as energy. Photo / Getty
According to TIME magazine, pasta belongs to the resistant starch category of carbs, which the body turns into fatty acids to use as energy. Photo / Getty

It's the news carb-lovers have been waiting for.

After years of being told we should avoid our favourite starchy meals if we want to lose weight, new research suggests that a certain type of carbohydrate has no negative impact on the waistline.

The research focused on a group of "resistant starch" carbs, which includes foods such as legumes, whole grains, beans, white rice and pasta. Unripe bananas and raw potatoes also contain resistant starch, and so does ingredients such as potato starch, tapioca starch, and bean flour.

According to an article in TIME magazine, these foods take longer to digest, and are turned into fatty acids, which the body will then burn for energy.

Named for their tendancy to resist digestion, resistant starches bypass the small intestine (where most food is usually digested), and head straight to the large intestine to be metabolised.

There, they're fermented and turned into short-chain fatty acids, to be burned as fuel for the body.

Resistant starches also serve a function as prebiotics, as they provide food for intestinal bacteria in the colon.

"Certain populations and cultures have been benefiting from resistant starches for a long time," Paul Arciero, professor in the health and exercise sciences department of Skidmore College told TIME.

"In my belief, that's what's protected them against some of the ravages of the more modern-day high carbohydrate diet."

Researchers say certain cultures have been benefiting from resistant starches, like white rice, for a long time. Photo / Getty
Researchers say certain cultures have been benefiting from resistant starches, like white rice, for a long time. Photo / Getty

Interestingly, cooking then cooling carbohydrate starch triggers the production of resistant starch.

"Cooking the carbohydrate starch alters the chemical bonds in the food," Arciero told TIME. "Stick it in the fridge, and as the food cools, those bonds reform in a new design.

"The ensuing structure of those bonds during the cooling process is what makes them resistant to then being digested in the small intestine. Even if you heat them up again, they retain their new resistant starches."

But don't go carb crazy just yet - certain foods like white bread and biscuits should still be avoided, as they contain refuned carbs that are absorbed quickly into the body, causing them to be stored as calories.

While experts say it is too early to tell whether resistant starch can help with weight loss, it can certainly help to control weight as these foods tend to keep you feeling full, which will reduce your likelihood of reaching for the biscuit jar after a meal.

-nzherald.co.nz

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