Science is great – especially food science. Thanks to all the research on what we eat, we’re learning that things that were supposed to be bad for us aren’t. And we’re learning new and better ways to cook and use foods we’ve taken for granted. Here are 5 surprising discoveries about some of the foods we’ve been cooking or using the wrong way.
Cool the Carbs
Potatoes, rice and even pasta are best cooked then cooled before serving. Refrigerating or cooling these types of carbs converts normal starches into the resistant starch – a slightly fermented version (you won’t taste it…) that isn’t as easily absorbed and metabolized into sugar. This fermentation not only helps keep stomach bacteria healthy and control sugar spikes but reduces the calories in these foods.
It’s best to eat these foods cold (my new excuse for eating more potato salad…), but reheating after refrigeration won’t reconvert all the resistant starches that have already been formed. So making ahead turns out not only to be a time saver but better for your health!
Let Garlic Rest
Fresh garlic is a delicious seasoning that’s full of compounds thought to fight cancer and reduce cholesterol. But those compounds need a little breathing room to reach their full benefits. After crushing, slicing or chopping, let the garlic rest for 10 -15 minutes before heating or adding it to what you’re cooking. And it’s fine to keep it out at room temperature while you wait.
It’s Okay to be Unrefined
The refining process removes the outer coating of grains – and that’s the part with most of the grain’s beneficial fiber. So look for unrefined or whole rice, barley, oats and other grains when buying them singly or as ingredients in baked or prepared foods.
Don’t be fooled by terms like raw, natural or even organic none of which will tell you if the food has been processed. It has to say whole or unrefined. You may need to cook or store them differently (refrigerate or freeze), but it’s worth the health benefits: better digestion and blood sugar control.
Vinegar – Not Just for Salad
Adding any kind of vinegar to whatever you’re cooking is a low calorie way to add flavor and boost your health. Since all vinegars are fermented, they’ll aid in digestion in a way that’s been shown to lower blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol. You can sprinkle it on food directly or add it to sauces and other dishes. Or, add it to drinks if you don’t mind the tangy flavor – and as a way to curb your appetite for sweets. Shoot for 1-2 tablespoons a day.
Add Fat to That
In the days when fat in foods was shunned, companies started making fat-free or low fat milk, yogurt, cheese – you name it. If it was a dairy product, they took the fat out so they could sell it to fat-conscious consumers. As it turns out, milk products are best as nature intended them – and that’s with some fat.
New research keeps finding that those who consume full fat dairy actually weigh less and have less incidence of diabetes. It’s believed the natural levels of fat in milk work synergistically with other compounds in the milk and with your body. So as long as you keep to the recommended portions (2 servings per day), don’t worry about the few extra calories.