Ask my 10 year old what his favourite three foods are and he’ll tell you pasta, pasta and pasta! And he’s not alone since pasta is, in fact, way up on the list of the world’s favourites. And why not? With its hundreds of flavour packed variations and ease of preparation, it’s an eye as well as a crowd pleaser.

Tortellini Cucina
Tortellini Cucina

But over the last 20 years or so, it’s been blamed as one of the culprits for the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the globe. It’s almost pure carbohydrates which the body converts very easily to sugars, consumes if we’re lucky or stores as fat if we’re not. Worse, during the digestion process, these sugars cause your blood glucose levels to sky-rocket, causing your pancreas to work overtime pouring out insulin  as your body tries to even things out again.  If all goes well, the sudden rise in blood glucose will fall just as quickly, and once this happens, guess what? You’re hungry again.

Some pasta manufacturers have responded with wholegrain and spelt varieties which, while lower GI foods, have both different textures and flavours to the pasta that countless millions enjoy. So what if you could make plain, inexpensive, refined, durum wheat pasta a health food?

The pasta secret!

Read any pasta recipe and it will tell you to cook your pasta and serve immediately. But research is now telling us that is wrong, wrong, wrong! In fact, you should be doing the exact opposite – cooking your pasta and setting it aside to cool down. What!!! But hold on to your seat, because this gets even better! If you now reheat the pasta, it’s even healthier – and we’re not talking about small differences!

Rotolo di spinaci (Spinach roll)
Rotolo di spinaci (Spinach roll) – enjoy cold or reheated!

When cooked pasta cools down its structure changes so it becomes a form of ‘resistant starch’. Resistant starch is digested differently to the simple starches in freshly cooked pasta because unlike carbohydrates, the enzymes in our stomachs have a hard time digesting resistant starch. Instead, the pasta moves down to the large intestine, where it acts more like dietary fibre. This means that fewer calories are absorbed and there’s a lower blood glucose peak.

But let’s be honest here… there are few pasta dishes that are going to win praise if you serve them cold, right? You don’t have to because reheating it makes it even better. In fact, blood glucose levels are reduced by a whopping 50 percent! That means that you feel fuller for longer and your body is able to make much more efficient use of the carbs it does absorb!

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor…

Chris van Tulleken from the British BBC2 program, Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and the University College London got some volunteers to take part in an experiment. For three full days, spread out over several weeks, they had to eat freshly cooked, cold, and reheated pasta with tomatoes and garlic, and always on an empty stomach. On each of these days, they gave a blood sample every 15 minutes for two hours as they digested their pasta meals, allowing monitoring and comparison of of their blood glucose levels.

“Just as expected, eating cold pasta led to a smaller spike in blood glucose and insulin than eating freshly boiled pasta had. But then we found something that we really didn’t expect – cooking, cooling and then reheating the pasta had an even more dramatic effect. Or, to be precise, an even smaller effect on blood glucose. In fact, it reduced the rise in blood glucose by 50 percent. This certainly suggests that reheating the pasta made it into an even more ‘resistant starch’. It’s an extraordinary result and one never measured before.”

So stop feeling guilty. Just let your pasta cool, reheat it and ‘you’re go to go’! Does that make you happy? Share your joy by leaving your comments below 🙂

Source:  BBC News

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