Warmer weather means barbeques and picnics featuring summertime favorites… corn on the cob, ripe juicy tomatoes, and cold potato salad. But a lot of people skip the potato salad. They think it’s bad for them. They’re afraid they’ll pack on pounds that will end up on their hips, belly or thighs.
And if that’s what keeps you from enjoying potato salad, here’s some surprising news…
Cold potato salad can help you lose weight.
Not only that… it can also increase your energy level, give your immune system a boost, and even protect you from colon cancer.
This may go against everything you’ve heard about starchy foods – that you need to avoid them because they turn into sugar, the sugar spikes your blood glucose levels, and whatever sugar isn’t used for energy will be stored as fat.
While that’s true for many starchy foods, it’s not true for foods that contain resistant starch. In fact, we now know resistant starch is good for you. It plays an important part in your health and, yes, it can help you lose weight, too.
The Starch With a Difference. . .
What’s different about resistant starch is that it resists being digested — it doesn’t turn into sugar and therefore can’t be absorbed. So it won’t end up on your hips and thighs, or spike your blood sugar levels, either. And without those spikes, you’ll have more energy consistently throughout the day.
There’s more. Because the starch stays in your intestines, it takes up room, so you feel full and eat less. That’s one of the ways it helps you lose weight. But there’s something even more important.
This undigested starch eventually makes its way to your large intestines, where trillions of bacteria cells live – mostly good ones that support your health and digestion, if you eat wisely, take probiotics, and avoid antibiotics.
But there are bad bacteria, too, as you’ve no doubt heard. All of us have some, but if you have too many, an imbalance in your gut bacteria between good and bad microbes can cause inflammatory bowel disease. An imbalance of intestinal organisms — called dysbiosis — has also been linked to diabetes, liver disease and heart disease. It’s even been tied to autism.1
As you might infer from that list, gut bacteria affect bodily functions in ways few people know about. In fact, about 70% of your immune system is in your gut.2 It’s essential to keep your good gut bacteria happy and healthy, so they’ll keep the bad bacteria from taking over and making you sick.
Resistant Starch Supports Good Bacteria
What keeps your good bacteria happy and healthy? The same thing that keeps most of us happy and healthy… the right food! For your good bacteria, one such food is resistant starch.
When resistant starch reaches your large intestine, the bacteria feast on it. Their way of digesting food — called fermentation — keeps your colon healthy by creating certain beneficial fatty acids. One of these byproducts of fermentation is butyrate.
Butyrate nourishes the cells of your colon. Without it, the colon cells actually digest themselves and die.3 This makes you more susceptible to colon cancer, as well as the other diseases I mentioned earlier.
And scientists believe butyrate may block your body from burning carbohydrates for energy.4 That means your body has to tap into your stored fat instead.
Janine Higgins, PhD, said butyrate “can prevent the liver from using carbs as fuel and, instead, stored body fat and recently consumed fat are burned.”
If eating carbs and burning fat sounds good to you, make sure you eat some resistant starch every day. You should aim to get between a half cup and a full cup.
One of the easiest ways is to convert some of your favorite starches into resistant starch, which happens when you let cooked starches cool before you eat them. As starch cools, some of it becomes crystalized. The crystalized starch resists being digested, and if it’s not digested, it’s not absorbed.
Here’s a list of resistant starch foods to get you started:
- Cooked and cooled rice, potatoes and pasta
- Legumes like lentils, beans and chick peas (can be eaten warm)
- Underripe bananas
- Oats (have most resistant starch when uncooked)
The next time I’m at a barbeque or picnic, I plan to dig into that cold potato salad!