Carbs contained in foods such as potatoes and rice usually get pushed aside as soon as anyone starts watching their calories. But 2008 research indicated they should be part of any weight-loss plan.
Why? All these foods contain resistant starch a unique kind of fibre that experts are saying is one of the most sensational nutritional developments in years.
Resistant starch: the new power nutrient
This may be first you've heard of resistant starch, but it's more than likely been a big part of your diet most of your life. Resistant starch is a type of dietary fibre found naturally in many carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, grains and beans, particularly when these foods are cooled.
It gets its name because it "resists" digestion in the body, and though this is true of many types of fibre, what makes resistant starch so special is the impact it has on weight loss and overall health.
As a dieter's weapon it can't be beaten. It not only increases your body's ability to burn fat, but it also fills you up and reduces overall hunger.
And its health benefits are wonderful as well. Studies show it improves blood sugar control, boosts immunity and may even reduce your cancer risk.
Resistant starch is bulky, so it takes up space in your digestive system. And because you can't digest or absorb it, the starch never enters your bloodstream. That means it bypasses the fate of most carbohydrates, which get stocked away as body fat when you eat more than you can burn.
The other two ways resistant starch can help you drop unwanted kilos are it increases your calorie burn and it shuts down hunger hormones.
Burn calories, burn!
Unlike some types of fibre, resistant starch gets fermented when it reaches the large intestine.
This process creates beneficial fatty acids, including one called butyrate, which may block the body's ability to burn carbohydrates.
"This can prevent the liver from using carbs as fuel and, instead, stored body fat and recently consumed fat are burned," said Janine Higgins, PhD, nutrition research director for the University of Colorado's Adult and Pediatric General Clinical Research Centre.
In your body, carbohydrates are the preferred source of fuel, like petrol that powers your car's engine.
Butyrate essentially prevents some of the petrol from getting into the tank and your cells turn to fat as an alternative.
One study found that replacing just 5.4 percent of total carbohydrate intake with resistant starch created a 20 to 30 percent increase in fat burning after a meal.
Shutting down hunger hormones
Animal studies have found that resistant starch prompts the body to pump out more satiety-inducing hormones.
A meal with resistant starch triggers a hormonal response to shut off hunger, so you eat less. And research shows that you don't get this benefit from other sources of fibre.
Fighting disease, one potato at a time
This powerful nutrient is also earning accolades as a major disease fighter from the World Health Organisation.
Scientists around the world are so excited about its health benefits because it may prevent cancer, fight diabetes and heart disease, as well as boost your immune system.