Nutritionists sometimes give carbohydrate-rich food a bad rap, whereas consumers love to enjoy its rich tastes. But you can actually eat high-carb dishes like rice and pasta in a way that is healthy by implementing these 7 kitchen tricks.

1. Eat bananas that are slightly unripe

healthy carbs tricks unripe bananas

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Your body fights to digest resistant starches, which are a kind of dietary fiber. That’s why they are helpful in the management of your blood sugar levels and promoting good bacterial growth since this starch is a probiotic. Unripe bananas contain more of it than ripe ones, being much better for your health!

2. Cook pasta al dente

healthy carbs tricks al dente pasta

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Undercooked pasta not only saves your time but also helps in managing blood sugars. Cooking al dente means to cook until it is “firm to the bite,” which significantly lowers the GI. When there is a suggested cooking time for your pasta, go with the lowest number. For example, if it says to cook pasta for 10-12 minutes, cook for 10 only. Use whole-grain pasta, and you will increase the benefits even more.

3. Cook your potatoes and then cool them

healthy carbs tricks cool potatoes

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Cooling your potatoes after cooking will increase their levels of resistant starch. This process makes the starch mass realign, and, since our bodies are unable to digest it, the sugar gets broken down and then absorbed. To get the highest intake of fiber and antioxidants, just scrub the potatoes and keep the skin on. This will also help slow down your digestion.

4. Eat leftover pasta with salad

healthy carbs tricks pasta salad

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The perfect way to eat pasta is what many refer to as “planned-overs.” A recent BBC television show experimented with pasta by cooking, then cooling, and finally reheating it. What they found is that eating reheated pasta reduces blood sugar by 50%, compared to when you eat fresh-made pasta. In addition, if you eat some salad prior to having a meal, it can help you feel full, increase your vegetable intake, and decrease calorie consumption.

Specifically, one study found that those who enjoyed a salad before their pasta had the potential to reduce their total calorie intake by approximately 120 calories. Another study registered 23% of increased vegetable intake.

5. Buy oats with bigger flakes

healthy carbs tricks bigger oats

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Whole-grain oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber. However, few people know that they aren’t all the same. The smaller the flake size, the higher the glycemic response, so the bigger – the better. Of course, it goes without saying to skip instant and quick-cooking oats altogether. For an even healthier effect, be sure to pick savory rather than sweet.

6. Pick the shape of your pasta wisely

healthy carbs tricks pasta shape

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You might be surprised to discover that pasta’s shape can make a difference. There is one study that suggests spaghetti has a much lower glycemic index than macaroni, meaning that glucose absorption is slower. If you really want to keep your GI down, choose whole-grain pasta and cook it al dente. Top it with vegetables and a touch of olive oil, so that the fat and fiber can help dull any spike in sugar levels.

7. Cook your rice with coconut oil

healthy carbs tricks rice coconut oil

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Don’t forget about how important protein and fat are – both can help reduce your glycemic response to starchy foods. Be sure to enjoy rice as a part of your well-balanced meal, which should also include protein-rich foods and healthy fats, like avocado, tofu, peanuts, and chicken. Take this a little further and cook your rice with coconut oil. Let it cool afterwards to significantly boost resistant starch levels and cut the calories in half. It’s a good idea to opt for black, purple, brown, or red rice rather than white to make your dish more interesting and get all the benefits of whole-grains.

[Featured image credit: Nik Stanbridge / Flickr, used under BY NC ND, image cropped]