Why eating pasta and rice as leftovers may be better for you than eating them freshly cooked

By Cassidy Morrison, Senior Health Reporter for Dailymail.Com

21:04 08 November 2023, updated 21:13 08 November 2023

  • Cooking and then cooling certain carbohydrates creates a healthier type of starch
  • This reduces blood sugar spikes, affecting the risk of diabetes and obesity
  • READ MORE: A startling comparison of UK vs US food ingredients



Eating carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and cold pasta lowers the risk of some of America’s biggest killers — like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, experts say.

Researchers have discovered that the starch molecules in carbohydrates change their structure when they are cooked and then cooled, leading to an array of intriguing benefits.

Crucially, the compounds – known as resistant starch – become more difficult to digest, meaning some of the sugars in carbohydrates are not absorbed into the bloodstream, said Dr Baláš Bajka, a gut physiologist at King’s College London in United Kingdom, before the New York Times.

This means blood sugar levels are kept more stable – making us feel fuller for longer and less likely to snack on junk food.

Resistant starches also contain fewer calories, about half the calories per gram of freshly cooked carbohydrates.

Resistant starch decreases slightly if you refrigerate and then reheat carbohydrates, experts say

Studies have found that residual carbohydrates can also trigger the release of more satiety hormones — like cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1 (which is the active ingredient in the blockbuster anti-obesity drugs Wegovy and Zepbound) .

Experts also say that resistant starch can nourish healthy bacteria in the gut, which are said to help protect against a number of diseases, including heart disease.

More recently, evidence has emerged to suggest that consumption of resistant starch may reduce the risk of developing certain types of hereditary cancers.

A study published in 2022 in the journal Cancer Prevention Research suggested that resistant starch helped reduce the incidence of cancers of the esophagus, stomach, bile ducts, pancreas, and duodenum in people with genetic susceptibility.

The patients were divided into two groups – 463 people took a supplement containing resistant starch every day for four years, while 445 took a placebo drug.

10 years later, there were five new cases of upper GI cancer among the starch group and 21 in the placebo group.

Dr John C Mathers, study author and professor of human nutrition at Newcastle University in the UK, said: “We found that resistant starch reduced a number of cancers by over 60%. The effect was most evident in the upper intestine.

“This is important because cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract are difficult to diagnose and are often not caught early.”

Meanwhile, testimonials from doctors praising resistant starch exploded on TikTok, with more than 1.3 million videos posted about the health advice.

On TikTok, fitness guru Jason Wittrock demonstrates how chilled rice causes a less dramatic spike in blood sugar than freshly cooked rice

Diabetic patients also joined the platform to show the difference in blood sugar spikes after a meal chilled rice.

Some experts say that reheating cold carbs can reduce the amount of resistant starch you consume.

A 2020 study published in the journal Nutrition Bulletin found that cooking, cooling, and then reheating rice reduced resistant starch by 20 percent. Kim Rose, a registered dietitian and diabetes expert, said that reduction was “not much.”

“The resistant starch in a boiled, then cooled and reheated potato will decrease much more because different carbohydrates have a different ratio of the type of starch they contain.”

What’s more, studies also show that resistant starch can nourish cells in the gut by increasing the production of a substance called butyrate.

Butyrate has been shown to reduce levels of inflammation in the gut and detect DNA damage, potentially preventing the growth and replication of cancer cells.

Last year, researchers at RMIT University in Australia developed a tasteless type of resistant starch that could be added to foods to improve their nutritional value.

The technology, called FiberX, is said to have “the potential to help with weight management and diabetes,” according to its creators.

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