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Starchy Rice and White Potatoes May Be Healthier Than You Imagined

Managing blood sugar levels is important.

For many Americans, managing glucose levels and glucose spikes after meals (postprandial) is crucial to health and longevity. Maintaining insulin sensitivity is a main element in the struggle to prevent and manage Type 2 Diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight.

For this reason, limiting or eliminating starches from your diet has been a cornerstone in dietary decisions for many Americans and others around the world. These starchy foods would include:

— Rice

— Potatoes

— Pasta

— Beans

— Lentils, and more

Because of my own concerns about glucose spikes and insulin resistance I took a look at some current research on starchy foods. I discovered that they may not be as harmful as you might think and may even be a healthy dietary choice for some.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that with just a small change in the preparation of starchy foods they may be a helpful addition to your diet. Even if you are diabetic or prediabetic.

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What’s Wrong With Starchy Foods?

Starchy foods are linked to a higher risk of diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain. It’s not uncommon for many people to stop eating starchy vegetables altogether due to the fear of gaining weight. Keto diets propose extremely low levels of carbohydrate consumption to counteract these risks.

WebMD recommends that people avoid or dramatically reduce consuming pasta, potatoes, white rice, corn, white bread, etc. This reduction may lead to improved blood pressure, diabetes control, reduction in food cravings, and improved well-being.

Resistance Starch

However, current research has demonstrated that starchy foods (rice, potatoes, pasta) may not be as unhealthy as once thought due to a process called retrogradation.

Retrogradation is the process of changing (restructuring) the molecular organization of starch by means of cooling. By cooling the existing cooked starch, it is turned into a resistant starch that is harder to digest. In this way, it gets to the large intestine where it acts as a healthy prebiotic fiber (MACs) that feeds your microbiome.

Cooled and reheated starchy foods may be a reasonable food for those suffering from diabetes since the normal glucose spikes usually associated with starch consumption are muted.

“Crops like potatoes can produce 17 times the calories as animals on the same piece of land.”

A study from 2019 demonstrated that resistant starches can promote insulin resistance and improved glucose levels for diabetics.

Resistant starches may also reduce systemic inflammation, reduce incidence of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, and while enhancing feelings of fullness that can lead to weight loss. These starches promote the creation of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, that act as a major energy source for the large intestines.

How Can You Transform Your Favorite Starchy Foods?

The process is simple. After preparing a starchy food, cool it down overnight and reheat the next day. The process of cooling and reheating will increase the amount of resistant starch in the original food. Your leftovers can become a much healthier option.

Here is a short video on the process of creating resistant starch.


Potatoes, especially white potatoes, are much maligned due to their high glycemic index. They can raise blood glucose levels and are seen as dangerous for diabetics and pre-diabetics. By cooling your potatoes and letting them sit for 12-24 hours and reheating them, the starches are restructured into healthier resistance starches.

BONUS: cooking potatoes in a microwave creates the most resistant starch.


The same is true for rice. Cooling rice increases its resistant starch content by 2.5 times. Like potatoes the cooling and reheating process changes rice into a healthier option.


Not as much research has been done directly on pasta, in this regard. However, studies have been done on wheat and comparable results have been found as with rice and potatoes. One study found that resistant starch in wheat was increased from 44% to 88%. More research is needed to confirm this result for pasta, specifically.

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Caveat: Each of us is biologically different. We respond to foods in an individualized manner. What works for you may not work for me. When deciding to eat starchy foods, it’s important to monitor your physical reactions. If you have access to a glucose monitor, test each of the foods prepared in the way I mentioned above. It’s only when you test your individual reactions to foods that you know if they are a healthy option. Consult with your health provider with any questions you have about including resistant starch in your diet.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to give up all of your favorite starchy foods. The process of retrogradation can improve the resistant starch content of foods like potatoes, rice, and pasta. Making them more appealing and a healthier food choice. The capacity to support a healthy microbiome, reduce inflammation, blunt glucose spikes, inhibit appetite, promote weight lose, and reduce cancer risk makes them a tempting menu choice. But remember, especially if you are diabetic or prediabetic, don’t take my word for it. If you can test the impact of the starchy foods you eat on your glucose levels, please do so. Speak to your physician or health provider.


Foods like bananas and cashews should not be over looked as sources of healthy resistant starch. Make sure to eat your bananas on the green side. Don’t let them get too yellow. At the totally yellow stage the resistant starch has changed over to glucose.

Good luck with your food choices. It you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult with your health care provider to discuss medical conditions or concerns.

Dr. Oliva, ND is the founder of the health and fitness website Transform Your Life. He is a New York State licensed Master Social Worker, a traditional Naturopath, a board certified Holistic Health Practitioner in addition to being a health and fitness writer.


He is a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, the Society of Complementary and Holistic Practitioners, and the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Oliva is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College (CUNY), and director emeritus of the Brooklyn College Magner Career Center. He has earned certification in Mindfulness meditation from Molloy College.

Dr. Oliva received Zen meditation and Hatha Yoga training at the Ruah Institute as well as tutelage in Chinese Chan meditation under Master Sheng-Yen.


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