Nothing's more satisfying than a bowl of pasta, and if we're to believe common knowledge, more indulgent either. But is this delicious pantry staple as unhealthy as its reputation purports? The answer might surprise you.
- ...is a good source of iron.100 g of raw pasta contains about a fifth of your daily requirement of iron, a powerful mineral which supports blood formation and helps transport oxygen throughout the body.
- ...contains some protein.Although not protein powerhouses, pasta does contain some plant protein.
- ...is healthiest when cooked al dente.The Italians might be onto something; when pasta is cooked al dente, the traditional Italian preparation method which leaves it firm to the bite instead of soft, it ends up containing less starch, which keeps blood sugar levels more consistent.
- ...isn't as diet-averse as you might think.While the cheeses and sauces which traditionally top pastas tend to be high in calories and fat, the noodles themselves aren’t as fattening as you might think. In fact, noodles are virtually fat free, and as they expand drastically when cooked, can yield a big portion that keeps you full for a long time for a relatively low amount of calories.
- ...might improve your mood.The complex carbohydrates in pasta stimulate the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which acts as a natural mood enhancer.
- ...provides immediate energy.There’s a good reason competitive athletes often eat noodles before a big game. The body stores their carbohydrates in the form of energizing and immediately-available glycogen in muscle cells and the liver.
Whole wheat pasta...
- ...promotes nervous system health.in contrast to pasta made from white flour, whole wheat pasta contains several vitamins from the B group, which help keep the nervous system functioning properly.
- ...is a good source of B vitamins.Whole wheat noodles contain several B group vitamins, including vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, which helps support metabolic function.
- ...might improve your mood.The relatively high amounts of tryptophan in whole wheat pasta might put you in a good mood; this protein is converted by the body into serotonin, a natural mood enhancer.
- ...promotes digestion.Whole wheat pasta that is cooked al dente, i.e. with a bit of a bite, makes its fiber even more powerful, helping to keep you full for long and kickstart sluggish digestion.
- ...isn't for everyone.If you suffer from celiacs disease, it’s best to stay away from pasta, whole wheat or otherwise, as pasta is rich in gluten.
- ...should be consumed in moderation if you have gout.Whole wheat pasta contains relatively high amounts of purine, which can exacerbate gout symptoms. If you suffer from gout or have high uric acid levels, you should consult your doctor before eating pasta.
- ...helps keep blood sugar levels stable.Whole wheat pasta is rich in dietary fiber, which helps blood sugar levels rise and drop slowly, which is much better for the body and won’t result in sugar crashes.especially noodles made from whole grain with dietary fibres ensure that the blood sugar level slowly rises after eating and drops again just as gently. Advantage: you are full for a long time and develop less cravings.
What You Should Know About Pasta
Tortellini: This delicious round pasta originally comes from Bologna and is characterized by its decadent fillings, from meat to cheese mixtures.
Gobetti: These small, curled noodles go great in casseroles and are appreciated by pasta connoisseurs not only for their special shape but also their distinct nutty taste.
Fusilli: This squiggly-looking pasta is one of the most popular in the U.S. According to myth, it was made by the son of a cook in the court of Florence in the renaissance, who formed the original fusilli when he was playing with his father's leftover spaghetti.
Ravioli: These delicious pasta pockets are filled with ingredients like spinach, ricotta, truffle or even meat. Ravioli are usually served with a butter or tomato sauce.
Gemelli: This pasta's structure resembles a very tight embrace, so it's no surprise it comes from the Italian word for "twins".
Farfalle: These winged noodles resemble a butterfly shape, which is also where they get their name. The Italian word for butterfly is none other than farfalle.
Orecchiette: These small, bowl-like noodles are considered the symbol of the Italian city of Bari.
Rigatoni: This tubular pasta originates from Rome, and is characterized by its large hollow space.
Rotelle: This whimsical pasta is reminiscent of the wheels of a toy car, making it a popular choice for children.
Penne: The term penne is derived from the Italian penna, which means feather or quill. Similar to a quill pen, the ends of this type of pasta are cut off at an angle. Penne is available with a smooth or ribbed surface.
Conchiglie: The pasta is reminiscent of mussels and, thanks to its shape, can absorb sauces particularly well. The larger versions are ideal for filling.
How Healthy is Pasta?
While pasta isn't exactly a health food, it's far from the fattening junk food people often make it out to be. In reality, pasta is low in fat and relatively low in calories, especially considering a small portion of dry pasta increases exponentially in size during the cooking process. Just 2 oz of dry penne yields 1 1/4 cup of cooked pasta after boiling, a large and filling meal that can be made nutritious with the addition of vegetables and a protein. Indeed, it's the additions and not the pasta itself which usually seperates a healthy and an unhealthy pasta. Cheese and creamy sauces may be delicious on pasta, but this is usually what leads it to be unhealthy. Stick with fresh vegetables, cream-less tomato based sauce and some lean protein as toppings, and you can easily create a healthy pasta dish.
In fact, pasta has some health benefits all it's own, containing some important nutrients such as protein and iron. It's also packed with carbs, which can give you instant energy, the reason pasta is so popular among athletes before a big game. On the other hand, the high levels of refined carbs can also lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Whole wheat pasta helps mitigate this problem, as it's milled from a whole grain, thus infusing it with much more fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Whole wheat pasta also boasts a slew of other health benefits over traditional white varities, containing a range of powerful B vitamins that help promote nervous system health and support metabolic health, among other benefits.
And while pasta is unquestionably healthier than the bad rep it's long been plagued with, there are certain people that should definitely stay away from pasta. If you suffer from diabetes, pasta can lead to dangerous spikes and crashes in blood sugar, especially white flour varieties. Pasta is also rich in gluten, making it intolerable for those suffering from celiacs disease. It also contains considerable amounts of uric acid, which can aggravate symptoms of gout.
|WHITE PASTA NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g, DRY)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
Most stores will contain a multitude of different whole wheat and white pastas. Increasingly, supermarkets are also stocking specialty pastas, including gluten-free varieties.
Stored in a closed container that protects it from moisture, dry pasta will stay fresh for at least a year. Once cooked, pasta generally stays good in the refrigerator for a few days, especially if it hasn't been already sauced.
The biggest question when cooking pasta is usually how much to make. We suggest the basic rule of 100 g of dry pasta per person.