Peas and carrots. Meat and potatoes. Some foods just go together.

A recent study found that including starches, like potatoes or lentils, in one's diet, if you also eat red meat, could reduce some of the cancer-causing risks associated with a high red meat diet. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

A recent study found that including starches, like potatoes or lentils, in one’s diet, if you also eat red meat, could reduce some of the cancer-causing risks associated with a high red meat diet. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

But a recent study suggests that there might actually be a health benefit to pairing meat with the starchy tuber.

A small study by researchers at Flinders University in Australia found that potatoes and other types of starches could reverse the colorectal cancer risks associated with consumption of red meat.

It was already known that starch fermentation can produce a compound that can alter microRNA levels in colorectal cancer cells in test tubes the study’s abstract stated. But these researchers went further to test how it would work in healthy volunteers.

“This study examined whether a [high red meat] diet altered miRNA expression in rectal mucosa tissue of healthy volunteers, and if supplementation with butyrylated resistant starch (HRM+HAMSB) modified this response,” the study authors wrote of the technical details.

Nearly two dozen volunteers spent four weeks on a high red meat diet and another four weeks on a diet that included red meat and a certain type of starch.

What they found, essentially, was that eating some starches could in fact reduce the risks associated with eating a lot of red meat. After a month of eating a diet rich in red meats, the study found a 30 percent increase in some “cancer-promoting genetic molecules,” Flinders University explained in a blog post about the research. However, when the red meat diet was coupled with butyrated resistant starch, the concerning genetic molecules measured at baseline levels.

“Unlike most starches, resistant starch escapes digestion in the stomach and small intestine, and passes through to the colon where it has similar properties to fiber,” lead author Dr. Karen Humphrey’s said, according to the university’s post. “Resistant starch is readily fermented by gut microbes to produce beneficial molecules called short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which have opposite effects on cancer-promoting molecules.”

With red meat consumption on the rise in many countries, Humphrey’s suggested that people consider adding a resistant starch to their diet, which she told the university could include “bananas that are still slightly green, cooked and cooled potatoes such as potato salad, whole grains, beans, chickpeas and lentils.”

This study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research

(H/T: New Scientist)

Front page image via Shutterstock.