When traveling to Italy, you’ll find a Trattoria on just about every block. They’re not very large, they usually have the owner’s name in their sign, and they serve delicious food. Speaking of delicious food, it’s simple food – usually several different pasta dishes, a “trademark” dish like ravioli filled with some unique or exotic ingredient, the main course, and a few salads or soup, depending on the season. And whether eating at one of the neighborhood Trattorias or eating at home, these are the mainstays of the Italian diet.
But when visiting one of the many “healthy” types of restaurants in America, you probably won’t find pasta on any of their menus. No linguine with clams, no spaghetti, and meatballs, no pasta carbonara. That’s because for years we’ve been told that pasta isn’t good for you, it’s just empty carbs that put on weight.
The thing is, pasta may be a lot healthier than we thought. So it’s time to take a fresh look at this Italian export that soothes the pallets of millions of people each day.
Pasta is Part of a Healthy Diet
Recent studies have shown that pasta has a low glycemic index, so it results in smaller increases in the body’s blood sugar levels – lower than other foods that have a high glycemic index. But the studies showed a lot more about pasta.
One study at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found that people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates not only didn’t gain weight or an increase in body fat, but they actually had a small weight loss. This study looked at more than 2,500 people, and they ate about 3 servings of past each week. Over a 12-week period, they lost about 1.1 pounds. It was part of a low glycemic index diet, but it did contradict common myths about pasta.
Pasta’s bad reputation may be misleading. The truth is that dried pasta is made from durum wheat (semolina) flour, which is much higher in protein than most other types of pasta. A study at the University of Sydney in Australia found that pasta is digested more slowly than most other refined carbs. It also releases sugar more slowly into the bloodstream, which may keep you feeling full a lot longer.
If you look at a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, you’re looking at a meal that is healthier than you think. Here’s why: you’ll get protein and iron from the beef in your meatballs, lycopene thanks to the tomato sauce and energy stoking carbohydrates from pasta.
Go Healthy – Go Whole Wheat
For a healthy lifestyle with anti-aging benefits, switch to whole-wheat pasta and you’ll boost the fiber in your meal. In fact, whole-wheat pasta has almost 3-times the fiber than regular white pasta. It may take a while to get used to the texture and flavor, but it is a healthier choice.
The key difference between whole-wheat pasta and regular white pasta is the way the pasta is processed. Whole-wheat pasta uses three parts of the grain, which include the bran, the germ, and the endosperm – where all the starch is located. Whole-wheat pasta is nutritionally superior to white pasta because you get more nutritional benefits including vitamin E, vitamin B antioxidants, protein and healthy fats.
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