Who said that a healthy choice is to give up a nice plate of pasta or rice? Whether it is to strengthen the microbiota, to counteract inflammation but also to keep blood sugar under control, there is a very healthy way to eat carbohydrates such as pasta and rice and take advantage of these precious benefits. And the secret is all in how we prepare the dish. Let's try to understand better based on two recent scientific researches (Hodges et al, Foods, 2020 - Steffi Sonia et al, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2015).
Not all carbohydrates are created equal
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. In fact, sugars, fibers and starches belong to the family of carbohydrates. In particular, starches are commonly found in pasta, bread and rice, and when we eat these foods, the starches contained are converted into glucose and absorbed. This is why blood sugar rises after a meal. However, there are particular types of starches, called resistant starches. Resistant starches, as the name suggests, resist digestion in the small intestine and arrive unaltered in the colon. From there, they perform a valuable prebiotic function, nourishing and supporting the good bacteria of the microbiota, which in turn produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate with an important anti-inflammatory action. Since resistant starches are not digested in the small intestine, they do not increase blood sugar. The good news is that it is possible to transform, at least in part, the starches of pasta and rice into resistant starches with important health benefits, as we have seen.
This is how pasta and rice protect the microbiota and counteract glycemic peaks
Studies have observed that, after having cooked pasta and rice, cooling them and then consuming them immediately or cooling them and then cooking them again allows to partially transform the starches present in resistant starches. In fact, in the volunteers who had eaten a portion of pasta left to cool or heated after being allowed to cool, the postprandial glycaemia was lower than in those who had eaten the freshly cooked pasta dish. Not only that, the cooled or cooled and then reheated pasta allowed a more rapid return of the blood sugar levels to the values before the meal. The same results were also observed with rice, potatoes and legumes cooled after cooking and then consumed immediately or re-heated.
Small lifestyle changes to gain health
A salad of pasta, rice or potatoes, especially now that the summer season begins, are not just yummy refreshing ideas for lunch but also a great way to consume carbohydrates and at the same time make some good for our microbiota and therefore for our body. If, on the other hand, you like to consume hot dishes, after having cooled the pasta or rice it is possible to heat them again, studies have shown that resistant starches do not transform again but, once formed, they remain even if the carbohydrates are reheated. But what if the problem is time? It may happen that work and commitments do not allow a lot of time to prepare our recipes.
Then the solution can be to prepare pasta, rice or potatoes the day before and, in any case, alternate this method of preparation with the classic one in which freshly cooked pasta and rice are consumed, because, as in everything, moderation is the important thing.