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Favor whole-grain starchy foods

We take stock of the importance of starchy foods in our diet and we give you advice on how to properly select, cook and accompany them in order to guarantee a meal with a low glycemic index.

What is a starch?

A starchy food is a food rich in complex carbohydrates, which provides energy to the body. Starchy foods include foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, cereals, legumes (like beans, chickpeas and lentils) and bread.

Starchy foods are an important source of carbohydrates, which provide energy to the body and brain. Complex carbohydrates in starchy foods are broken down more slowly in the body than simple carbohydrates, making them more filling and providing longer-lasting energy. Starchy foods can also be a source of important nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

But be careful to choose and cook them carefully because this will have an impact on their glycemic index (GI). The latter measures how quickly carbohydrates in a food are digested and converted to sugar in the blood. Foods with a high GI can cause a rapid and significant rise in blood sugar, which can cause you to feel hungry and tired shortly after eating. Starchy foods with a low GI are digested more slowly, which can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and provide lasting energy.

Why choose “complete” starchy foods?

Whole-grain starchy foods, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain cereals, are beneficial because:

👉 They are rich in nutrients

Whole-grain starches contain a wide variety of nutrients, such as B vitamins, minerals (like iron, zinc, and magnesium), and antioxidants. Unlike refined starchy foods, which are often devoid of these nutrients, whole-grain starchy foods provide the body with a variety of nutrients important for health.

👉 They are rich in fiber

Whole starchy foods have retained their “shell” and are therefore rich in fiber, which is essential for digestive health and for maintaining a feeling of satiety after meals. Fiber helps slow the glycemic impact of a meal and therefore helps regulate blood sugar levels.

👉 Beneficial effects on health

Several studies have shown that eating whole-starchy foods regularly can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Whole-grain starchy foods can also help maintain a stable weight because they tend to be more filling and therefore should be consumed in moderate quantities.

Be careful when cooking to regulate the GI!

Cooking starchy foods can affect their glycemic index (GI) in several ways. For example, prolonged cooking will increase the GI of a food (prefer “al dente” pasta). Steamed foods will have a lower GI than boiled, baked or fried foods!

To conclude, it is important to vary the sources of starchy foods in the diet and consume them in moderate quantities, depending on individual energy and nutrient needs. Prefer whole starchy foods but if you only have "white pasta" for example on hand, do not hesitate to serve them with vegetables (for fiber) and a drizzle of olive oil (good fat !), which will lower the GI of your dish!

And you, how do you consume your starchy foods?

Delphine and Fanny

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