Monday, October 12, 2009

Resistant Starch: Why You Can Have Your Carbs and Eat It Too

Carbs have a bad reputation and they have taken a beating for as long as diet became a science and a weight loss program. They are supposedly evil, capable of padding your middle, increasing your thigh size and adding layers of unwanted, unsightly inches to your otherwise could-be thin frame. If not for carbs, the world would thinner and healthier. Now, is that so?

I've been raised on carbs. We have rice and often, noodles for lunch and dinner and more carbs for mid-day snack and supper. Granted that our snacks are sweet potatoes and bowls of bean dessert, still--I subsisted heavily on carbs. By all reasoning and reckoning, I should tip the scale at an unmentionable number but...thanks to my mother's nutritional intuition, I remain a size 0. How is that so?

Turns out that not all carbs are bad. There is a group of carbs that are high in resistant starch and more and more researches are showing the upside of eating resistant starch. What are they--these new found stars of weight loss? They are a type of fiber that delivers some of the health benefits of soluble and insoluble fiber. They are tightly packed chains of sugar molecules that amylase (the enzyme that breaks down starch) finds difficulty breaking down. Resistant starch resists digestion (hence the name) and continues through the digestive tract to the large intestine, where bacteria can then feed on them, fermenting them and producing fatty acids. These fatty acids make the environment more acidic and therefore less friendly to bacteria, thereby promoting colon health.

But perhaps, the better news is that resistant starch helps weight control. A small study conducted at the University of Colorado, published in Nutrition and Metabolism, showed how fat burning was 23% higher in those who ate 5 grams of resistant starch in a meal than those who didn't. In other words, more fat is burned and less is available to store away. Less fat stored away means a leaner you. In addition, resistant starch makes you feel full sooner and the feeling of satiation stays longer. A winning solution.

Ok, where can you find these good samaritans of weight control? You have choices: beans, bananas (especially under-ripes ones), potatoes, sweet potatoes and whole-grain breads and products.

So, don't be afraid to include carbs in your diet. Picking the right kind of carbs (and enjoying them too) may be the way to a trimmer, healthier you.

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