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Food and nutrition / April 20, 2016

Can Carbs Be Made Healthy?

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A big slice of toast, a steaming bowl of pasta, a doughy slice of pizza - there's few things more comforting than starchy carbs.

Carbs have a bit of a reputation for making us fat, but why? They contain 4 kcals per gram, the same as protein and less than half of the 9kcals per gram of fat. One suggestion is that when we eat carbs we often pair them with a higher calorie fat source, butter on bread, creamy sauces with pasta and cheesy pizza, increasing the overall calorie content. 

Starchy carbs are also quickly and easily digested, causing a sharp rise and fall in your blood sugar which can mean you find yourself hungrier sooner than you'd anticipate, lethargic and sluggish. It's important to remember that any macronutrient in too much quantity can make you gain weight, but you can find out more about carbohydrates here.  

But what if there was a way to reduce the effect these starchy carbs have on your body and perhaps even reduce the calorie intake?

Research suggests that there is and it's even easier than you thought. 

During an experiment conducted by Dr Chris van Tulleken and Dr Denise Robertson, a group of volunteers were asked to eat a bowl of pasta and tomato sauce on three separate days and measure their blood sugar levels every 15 minutes for 2 hours after.  

The pasta was served to them freshly cooked and hot on 1 day, chilled on the second and chilled and then reheated on the third day. 

When the volunteers ate the hot, freshly cooked pasta their blood glucose showed the sharp rise and then fall in blood sugar (demonstrated by the green line on the graph) When they ate the chilled pasta however, the blood glucose didn’t rise as much (the blue line on the graph). 

Image courtesy of www.BBC.co.uk

More interestingly though, when the volunteers ate the reheated pasta, the blood glucose levels rose 50% less than after eating the chilled pasta (shown by the red line on the graph). Therefore the study suggests that by simply reheating your pasta after chilling it you can change the effect it has on your body, reducing the spike in your blood levels and changing the structure of the enzymes so that it acts as a resistant starch which carries a host of benefits to your health. 

So these initial results and findings could potentially make leftovers healthier than ever (hello spag bol for lunch every day). You can read the full write up here.

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Lisa

Written by Lisa

Coming from being a professional dancer, I transitioned into fitness because I couldn't stay still! In addition to partner management at MoveUSA, I teach fitness classes throughout NYC and spend my time eating, sleeping and breathing fitness! When not thinking about fitness, I'm taking a business course at FIT NYC. What keeps me motivated? Wanting to live the healthiest life possible and de-stress the natural way ;)

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