Pasta Helps Keep You Full
Pasta is a comfort food that ﬁlls the belly and keeps us satisﬁed for hours. From a scientiﬁc point of view, there is actually a reason that pasta helps keep you fuller for longer. Pasta has a low Glycemic Index, meaning that it raises our blood sugar more slowly than other carbohydrate sources. This is because pasta’s complex carbohydrates are more slowly digested and can help keep us satiated. Even better, this low impact on blood sugar occurs not only at that meal, but also at the following meal, in a phenomenon dubbed the ‘second meal concept.’
One of the key tenets of the Healthy Pasta Meals Scientiﬁc Consensus Statement is that “Pasta is satiating and keeps you fuller longer.” This lasting energy source is also the reason why pasta is the favored pre-race meal for Olympic athletes around the world. Whether you are training for an athletic competition, or just want to stay energized between meals, pasta is the perfect pick to help keep you full.
Pasta is Good For You and the Planet
Not only is pasta a healthy staple food in its own right, it is also an ideal vessel to help get other nutritious foods on our plate, such as seasonal vegetables, ﬁsh, tomatoes, or beans. Studies ﬁnd that pasta eaters tend to get more ﬁber and potassium in their diets, and that pasta and other healthy grain foods may also be linked with lower breast cancer risk. The healthfulness of a pasta dish depends on how much you eat (a healthy serving is ½ to ⅔ cup cooked, or 80 grams uncooked), and what you pair it with, so be sure to select nutritious toppings and sauces for your pasta meals.
With its complex carbohydrates and nostalgic ﬂavor, pasta nourishes both the body and the soul. And luckily for us, pasta meals can also help nourish the planet too. Pasta’s carbon footprint (15.5 oz CO2eq/lb, or 34.44g CO2eq/kg) is much lower than many other foods, such as red meat (359.3 oz C02eq/lb). This is because growing durum wheat to make pasta is much gentler on the earth, requiring less water and resources. To lower the environmental impact even further, cover the pot with a lid, and don’t salt the water until after the water has boiled, so that the water boils faster and saves energy. After all, how we cook pasta at home accounts for 38% of pasta’s total carbon footprint.
Pasta is a Pillar of the Mediterranean Diet
According to Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, and founder of the True Health Initiative, “Pasta ﬁgures famously in some variants of the traditional Mediterranean diet, which in turn ﬁgure among the diets practiced by the longest-lived, most vital populations known. As diverse studies continue to highlight the health beneﬁts of traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns, enthusiasm for them among experts in nutrition is predictably strong and widespread.”
Of course the Mediterranean Diet is based on the culinary traditions of the communities surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Minimally processed grain foods, like pasta, are a staple of the diet, along with seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, seafood and ample olive oil. For more than 5 decades researchers have observed that people eating a Mediterranean Diet have lower risks of many chronic diseases, and tend to live longer, healthier lives. Bring the Mediterranean diet into your own home by trying a Mediterranean-inspired pasta dish, such as spaghetti with tomatoes, basil, and clams.
Pasta Does Not Make You Fat
Around the globe, carbohydrate confusion has taken hold, with many people inadvertently turning away from the foods that have nourished humanity for centuries. Nutrition experts agree that pasta is not to blame for weight gain. In fact, pasta can actually be your friend when it comes to keeping the weight oﬀ. In a 2018 study in the British Medical Journal analyzing 32 randomized clinical trials involving 2,448 adults, researchers found that compared with high Glycemic Index diets, the low Glycemic Index diets with pasta (about three ½ cup servings per week) were linked with modest weight loss (0.63 kg, or 1.4 pounds), even without cutting calories.
As scientists from around the world declared in the Healthy Pasta Meals Scientiﬁc Consensus Statement, “Many clinical trials conﬁrm that excess calories, and not carbohydrates, are responsible for obesity. Diets successful in promoting weight loss can emphasize a range of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat. All these three macronutrients, in balance, are essential for designing a healthy, individualized diet anyone can follow for their whole life. Moreover, very low carbohydrate diets may not be safe, especially in the long term.”
Pasta is Tasty and Brings People Together
Pasta is a blank canvas that beautifully showcases the spices, herbs and regional specialties of cuisines around the world. According to Dr. Kantha Shelke, author of Pasta and Noodles, a Global History, “Pasta is simple, pasta is comforting and pasta is culture—all ample reasons as to why pasta is globally recognized as a culinary staple by disparate nations that share very little common ancestry.”
Starting with just a package of pasta and a humble pot of boiling water, the culinary opportunities are endless. Warm or chilled, indulgent or simple, traditional or with a twist, there is a pasta recipe to suit every palate. No matter what type of gathering you’re planning, from a gourmet dinner party to a community potluck, pasta is a tasty food that brings people together.
Now it’s YOUR turn to create a healthy pasta meal to celebrate World Pasta Day. Try one that reﬂects your family’s heritage, whether it’s Italian, Irish, Indian, Indonesian or Ivorian. You’ll discover the ﬂavors and spices of your heritage can pair with pasta’s canvas. Or, rely on the tried and true by making your favorite healthy pasta meal. No matter what you make, take a photo and share your photos on social media and show your love for pasta. #Haveagoodpasta #WorldPastaDay
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