Studies show that cooking and cooling pasta and rice increases their resistant starch (RS)—classified as a dietary fiber. This means that eating leftovers of pasta and rice has added benefits.
What is resistant starch?
“Resistant starch (RS) is a fraction of the starch that is not digested in the small intestine and enters the colon unchanged, where fermentation by resident microorganisms occurs…”Health Benefits of Resistant Starch: A Review of the Literature
Replacing digestible starch with RS reduces blood sugar level after meals and promotes a healthy gut microbiome. As a dietary fiber, RS increases satiety—and being full means that we are less likely to feel hungry. Reheating retains most of the RS formed during the cooking-cooling process.
Pasta and Rice: Italians and the Japanese
Culturally, we have developed a fear of carbohydrates when it comes to health. I’ve always found this ironic, since society champions the Mediterranean and Japanese diet. We often look to these countries for longevity answers and life-long health. Surveys show that 63% of Italians eat pasta everyday and 84% Japanese say they eat rice everyday.
There have been various attempts to explain this conundrum such as portioning. Italians eat on average 2/3 cup of pasta and not the heaping bowls we sometimes see in Italian restaurants in the United States. Others look at overall culture, such as the amount of exercise people get. And last, the type of wheat and fresh ingredients Italians and Japanese pair rice and pasta with.
Gaining a deeper understanding of carbohydrates allows us to better understand the impressive health outcomes of these societies.
Personally, I don’t avoid pasta and rice. Unless dealing with a medical condition that requires avoiding carbohydrates, approach food with balance. Always strive to eat fresh and don’t deprive your body of essential nutrients.