What if a diabetes diagnosis didn’t have to mean throwing out all the pasta in your pantry?

Well, it doesn’t. Many with diabetes choose to eliminate pasta from their diet, because all those carbs can do some serious damage to your blood sugar. But if you’re smart about which pasta you select, what you add to it, and how you cook it, you may still be able to include pasta dishes in your diabetes diet.

Resistant starches

According to research from Dr. Denise Robertson at the University of Surrey, cooking, cooling, and reheating your pasta before eating it can change the way your body reacts to this carb-heavy food.

Like most carbohydrates, pasta is a starch. When starches are broken down in your gut, they get absorbed as simple sugars, which makes blood sugars soar. When you cook pasta and then cool it down before eating, some of these starches are transformed into a resistant starch through a process called retrogradation. Resistant starches are absorbed into your bloodstream in a different way, acting like soluble fiber that is resistant to digestion and passes through the digestive tract without transforming into a simple sugar.

In a small clinical trial, Dr. Chris van Tulleken tested this and found that those who ate pasta that had been cooked, cooled, and reheated had a significantly lower rise in blood sugar than those who ate fresh, hot pasta.

How to eat pasta the healthier way

Everybody’s diabetes is different, so it’s hard to say how your body will react to this pasta cooking method. We asked members in a discussion question whether anyone had tried it out. While some seemed skeptical and others found that even resistant starches caused problems for them, there were a couple who said they try to include resistant starches in their regular diet.

If you want to try out the cook, cool, and reheat pasta method, make some whole grain pasta the day before (or at least a few hours before) you’re ready for your pasta meal, and place it in the fridge to cool off. Once the pasta has cooled completely, reheat it.

Even if resistant starches are supposed to be less harsh on your blood sugars, practice smart portion control, especially the first time when you are still discovering how this will affect you. Try pairing your pasta with healthy foods like boneless, skinless chicken breast, a nourishing portion of veggies, and/or a vegetable-based sauce. About two hours after eating, test your blood sugar to see how your pasta dish has affected your blood glucose levels.

If you still choose to stay away from pasta, that’s fine. It’s important to find a diet that works for you and your diabetes management. You can find many healthy pasta alternatives like spaghetti squash or zoodles. If you’ve been craving pasta and you’re ready to test it out, try the cook, cool, reheat method, watch your portions, and monitor your blood sugars. You may have just found a way to bring back one of your favorite foods.

Have you tried the cook, cool, reheat method for eating pasta? How did it affect your blood sugars? Share with the community in the comment section below.

For more on diabetes and carbs:

How to Recognize a Carbohydrate
Problem Foods: Can Diabetics Eat Pasta?
After-Meal Blood Sugars: What's Food Got to Do with It?