Why Pasta Is More Healthy Than You May Think

why pasta healthier than you think 1 12
 Pexels, CC BY

New year, new you, new diet. It’s a familiar refrain. One popular dieting technique is to create a food blacklist. Quitting “carbs” or packaged foods is common, which can mean avoiding supermarket staples like pasta.

But do we really need to ban pasta to improve our diets?

This is what we call a reductionist approach to nutrition, where we describe a food based on just one of its key components. Pasta isn’t just carbohydrates. One cup (about 145 grams) of cooked pasta has about 38g of carbohydrates, 7.7g of protein and 0.6g of fats. Plus, there’s all the water that is absorbed from cooking and lots of vitamins and minerals.

“But pasta is mostly carbs!” I hear you cry. This is true, but it’s not the whole story. We need to think about context.

Your day on a plate

You probably know there are recommendations for how much energy (kilojoules or calories) we should eat in a day. These recommendations are based on body size, sex and physical activity. But you might not realise there are also recommendations about the profile of macronutrients – or types of food – that supply this energy.

Fats, carbs and proteins are macronutrients. Macronutrients are broken down in the body to produce energy for our bodies.

Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges describe the ratio or percentage of macronutrients that should provide this energy. These ranges are set by experts based on health outcomes and models of healthy eating. They aim to make sure we get enough, but not too much, of each macro. Consuming too much or too little of any type of food can have consequences for health.

The ratios are also designed to make sure we get enough of the vitamins and minerals that come with the energy in the foods we typically eat. We should get 45–65% of our energy from carbohydrates, 10–30% from proteins, and 20–35% from fats.

Mangia pasta

Macronutrient ratios mean it can be healthy to eat up to between 1.2 and 6.5 times more carbohydrates in a day than protein – since each gram of protein has the same amount of energy as a gram of carbohydrates.

The ratio of carbs to protein in pasta is 38g to 7.7g, which equates to roughly a 5:1 ratio, well within the acceptable macronutrient distribution range. Meaning pasta actually has enough protein to balance with the carbohydrates. This isn’t just because of the eggs in pasta either. Wheat is another source of protein, making up about 20% of the proteins eaten globally.

If you are worried about the calorie levels and weight gain, that’s not so simple either.

In the context of an otherwise healthy diet, people have been shown to lose more weight when their diet includes pasta regularly. And, a systematic review of ten different studies found pasta was better for post-meal blood glucose levels than bread or potatoes.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Instead of quitting spaghetti, consider reducing portion sizes, or switching to wholegrain pasta, which has a higher fibre content which has benefits for gut health and can help you feel fuller longer.

Gluten-free pasta has slightly less protein than wheat pasta. So, despite being healthier for people with gluten intolerance, there are no increased health benefits in switching to gluten-free pasta for most of us.

why pasta healthier than you think2 1 12 
Pasta really is better the next day. Leftovers are lower in calories when cooled and reheated. Unsplash, CC BY

Pass the pesto and the leftover bolognese

Pasta is also not typically eaten alone. So, while some warn about the dangers of blood sugar spikes when eating “naked carbs” (meaning just carbs with no other foods), this typically isn’t a risk for pasta.

When pasta provides the base of a meal, it can be a vehicle to help people eat more vegetables in smooth or chunky vegetable sauces. For kids (or fussy adults) pasta sauce can be a great place to hide pureed or grated vegetables.

Not eating pasta alone is also important for the protein profile. Plant foods are typically not complete proteins, which means we need to eat combinations of them to get all the different types of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) we need to survive.

But pasta, even though we often focus on the carbs and energy, packs a good nutritional punch. Like most foods, it isn’t just macronutrients it also has micronutrients.

One cup of cooked pasta has about a quarter of our daily recommended intakes of vitamins B1 and B9, half the recommended intake of selenium, and 10% of our iron needs.

The news for pasta gets even better when we eat it as leftovers. When pasta is cooked and cooled, some of the carbohydrates convert to resistant starch. This starch gets its name from being resistant to digestion, so it contributes less energy and is better for blood sugar levels. So, your leftover pasta, even if you reheat it, is lower in calories than the night before.

Look a little closer at ‘carb’ choices

There is a lot of talk about reducing intakes of carbohydrates for weight loss, but remember carbs come in different forms and in different foods.

Some of them, like pasta, bring other benefits. Others like cakes and lollies, add very little else. When we talk about reducing intake of refined carbohydrates, think first of sweets that are eaten alone, before you cut the staple carbohydrates that are often served with vegetables – arguably the healthiest core food group!The Conversation

About The Author

Emma Beckett, Senior Lecturer (Food Science and Human Nutrition), School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs
by Wendy and Eric Brown.

Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy and Eric Brown.As part of their commitment to self-reliance and resiliency, Wendy and Eric Brown decided to spend a year incorporating wild foods as a regular part of their diet. With information on collecting, preparing, and preserving easily identifiable wild edibles found in most suburban landscapes, this unique and inspiring guide is a must-read for anyone who wants to enhance their family's food security by availing themselves of the cornucopia on their doorstep.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It -- edited by Karl Weber.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About ItWhere has my food come from, and who has processed it? What are the giant agribusinesses and what stake do they have in maintaining the status quo of food production and consumption? How can I feed my family healthy foods affordably? Expanding on the film’s themes, the book Food, Inc. will answer those questions through a series of challenging essays by leading experts and thinkers. This book will encourage those inspired by the film to learn more about the issues, and act to change the world.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.



 

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

MOST READ

screenshot of a My Space page
What Happens to Our Data When We No Longer Use a Social Media Network or Publishing Platform?
by Katie Mackinnon
The internet plays a central role in our lives. I — and many others my age — grew up alongside the…
a person wearing a surgical mask working at a computer
Coronaphobia: A New Epidemic of Isolation
by Barry Vissell
Coronaphobia is a real word. Researchers coined this term in December 2020. It's the fear of Covid…
an older man speaking with a young adult over a cup of tea
Storytelling Allows Elders to Transfer Values and Meaning to Younger Generations
by Mary Ann McColl
Repeated storytelling is a key method for elders to communicate what they believe to be important…
a person metaphorically hitting themselves over the head
Placebos Reduce Feelings of Guilt – Even When People Know They’re Taking One
by Jeremy Howick
Guilt is a double-edged sword. It can be a reminder to improve and a motivation to apologise. It…
a young man taking an antidepressant pill
Emotional ‘Blunting’ and Antidepressants – What Is Happening?
by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian et al
We know that depressed patients commonly report “emotional blunting” after longer use of…
effects of el nino 1 28
4 Consequences of El Niño Returning in 2023
by Paloma Trascasa-Castro
Every two to seven years, the equatorial Pacific Ocean gets up to 3°C warmer (what we know as an El…
clay figurines sitting at a table eating food made of clay
Everybody Eats Earth in Some Way or Another
by Ran Knishinsky
There are many reasons why so many people of different ages, cultures, and races eat clay. Do these…
how beavers improve ecosystems 1 28
How Beavers and Oysters Are Helping Restore Ecosystems
by Daniel Merino and Nehal El-Hadi
Whether you are looking at tropical forests in Brazil, grasslands in California or coral reefs in…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.