Although this article for the Durk & Sandy Life Extension News was written on April 1st, it is NOT an April Fools Day joke. This is a very real, very exciting method released by the American Chemical Society by press release on April 1st.
Like so many starch-laden foods, rice is high in starch (1.6 ounces in a cup, about 240 calories) and high in available calories. The starch is mostly in the form of amylopectin, easily broken down into glucose for immediate use, stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen for quick energy, with all the rest stored as fat. A very fattening food.
A group of scientists led by Sudhair A. James, at the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka, thought that increasing the content of resistant starch, the amylose form of starch—it cannot be digested for storage as fat—and passing on to the colon where resident microbes ferment it, would produce healthful short chain fatty acids and hydrogen gas in the process.
The scientists developed a simple cooking process to convert much of the starch in rice into resistant (amylose) starch. Here’s how they did it: They added a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. [It is the MCTs, medium chain triglycerides, in the oil that do the trick.] They added a half-cup of rice to the boiling water containing the coconut oil and simmered for 40 minutes. (The researchers say that 20–25 minutes boiling would be long enough.) Then, they refrigerated the cooked mixture for 12 hours. The refrigeration is necessary because it leads to the formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains, turning it into resistant starch. The scientists report that this procedure increased the resistant starch content of the rice by 10 times that of rice cooked the usual way.
Dr. James explained that their oil enters the starch granules during the cooking, changing its structure so that it becomes resistant to digestive enzymes. Said Dr. James, “The cooling is essential because amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization. Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains, which also turns it into a resistant starch.” Reheating the rice for consumption doesn’t affect the resistant starch, he adds. Dr. James notes that his group will be exploring what forms of rice work best in this process and whether another type of oil might work.
We think it possible that potato starch might also be converted to amylose (resistant) starch using this method. We would suggest shredding the potato to increase its surface exposed to the action of the oil (we would suggest using MCT oil) and then cooking as they describe with the cooling period they used for the rice. Using this method, you may get high amylose potato starch, far lower calories, and all using a simple cooking protocol, nothing fancy such as modifying the potato’s genome to increase its production of amylose starch.
The final note in the press release explained that the scientists studied 38 different varieties of Sri Lankan rice and found that the resulting rice (after cooking with the oil and then cooling) had a resistant starch concentration ranging from 0.30 to 4.65% and that the traditional varieties had significantly higher resistant starch than old varieties and new “improved” varieties. Still, the overall result was that the method increased resistant starch by at least 10 times.
BRAVO!! We have not tried this yet or verified the method. But, assuming that the ACS would have checked the facts, this is superior chemical science in the service of better health. We hope to see this methodology spreading rapidly to prepared foods, restaurants, and so on.
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