A new study has revealed that reheating your pasta the next day may make it significantly healthier than the original meal.
Carbohydrates have become something of an enemy in the world of weight loss, where starch-heavy foods such as pasta and potatoes are thought to pack on the kilos.
However, according to new studies, cooking, cooling and then reheating a bowl of pasta can make it healthier than it was originally.
Michael Mosley, the British journalist, doctor and author of bestseller The Fast Diet(5:2), teamed up with Dr Chris Van Tulleken on BBC television’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, to put the theory to the test. Over several weeks, they recorded nine volunteers’ blood glucose levels after they ate pasta.
“Just as expected, eating cold pasta led to a smaller spike in blood glucose and insulin than eating freshly boiled pasta had,” Michael said.
“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.”
They concluded that by cooking, cooling and then reheating a bowl of pasta, it changes the structure of the food, turning it into “resistant starch”. This, in turn, reduced the rise in blood glucose levels by 50 per cent.
The study found that the reheated pasta was more resistant to enzymes in the gut that break down carbs and release glucose, essentially converting it to sugar or energy. Resistant starch, however, is digested by the body more like a fibre and helps the body feel fuller longer.
“We can convert a carb-loaded meal into a more healthy fibre-loaded one instead, without changing a single ingredient, just the temperature,” Dr Van Tulleken says. “In other words, our leftovers could be healthier for us than the original meal.”
Although the research was done for TV, it was conducted under the guidance of Dr Denise Robertson who is a senior nutrition scientist from the University of Surrey. Dr Robertson has confirmed that the study is robust science despite the small sample of volunteers that were studied, and she plans to continue the research further with funding from Diabetes UK.
“There’s a lot more to losing weight than eating resistant starch,” warns dietitian Melanie McGrice in The Brisbane Times. However, she adds, it can still help the cause. “Most of my clients are time-poor and pasta freezes really well. Cooking and reheating can provide double the benefits – it saves you time and increases the amount of resistant starch you eat, so it’s a win, really.”