Nowadays with all the dietary restrictions that people embrace, carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and pizza have become an enemy to healthy eating.
Pasta is viewed as a cause of weight gain and tiredness. The view that pasta is fattening and doesn’t provide any nutritional value is simply wrong.
Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of the main macronutrients in the human diet. They are essential to provide energy, control blood glucose and insulin metabolism, participate in cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism, and help with fermentation.
Here are 5 good reasons why you should consume pasta:
Pasta is good for you and for the environment: pasta offers a steady source of energy and perfectly pairs with vegetables and olive oil that nourish our bodies. It is part of the “Mediterranean diet” which is a diet scientifically proven to have helped people from the Mediterranean countries living a long and healthy life. Moreover, it has a carbon footprint of only 15.5 oz CO2eq/lb which is much lower than many other foods, especially meat.
Pasta is a pillar of the Mediterranean diet: as mentioned above, pasta is part of the Mediterranean diet which is a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, olive oil, moderate amount of dairy and low amount of meat, especially red meat. It has been associated with a reduced risk of developing multiple chronic diseases. It protects against oxidative stress and lowers LDL cholesterol. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation (UNESCO) recognises the Mediterranean diet as an element of intangible cultural heritage.
Pasta gives you energy and keeps you full for longer: pasta is a complex carbohydrate that is digested slowly. It activates the hormone leptin which gives you satiety. As a result, pasta keeps you full for longer and prevents you from overeating.
Pasta doesn’t make you fat: weight problems do not depend on only one type of food. Instead, eating beyond your calorie needs consistently, is a contributor large to weight gain. Moreover, lifestyle and physical activity are two important factors that should be considered when looking at weight gain. A healthy dietary lifestyle with little physical exertion can still lead to weight gain. While it is possible to lose weight without being overly active, physical activity is essential to burn fat, improve your health and reduce the risk of major illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and cancer.
Pasta brings people together: in the Mediterranean countries like Italy, pasta is a symbol of community. We organise lunch and dinner and pasta is always served on the table. As a simple, nutritious, accessible and convenient food, pasta is truly a food that brings people together. A survey conducted in 2011 by the charity Oxfam reveals that pasta is the world’s favourite food. It was surprising to know that, as well as being popular in European countries, pasta was one of the favourites in the Philippines, Guatemala, Brazil and South Africa.
Still not convinced? Read the discussion that The Healthy Pasta Meal Scientific Consensus Statement had in October 2015 about the importance of pasta in our diet.
Scientists in France analysed the pasta making process (mixing, forming, drying and cooking) and they conclude that pasta is a slow-release carbohydrate with a moderate glycaemic load and a low glycaemic index. Therefore, it helps to control blood glucose levels. Furthermore, pasta contains important nutrients like folate and iron which are crucial in pregnancy and are needed to produce red blood cells.
Nowadays, there are a wide range of whole grain pasta options from gluten-free to 100% whole wheat. Contrary to popular belief, gluten-free pasta is not healthier than white pasta.
A lot of people pursue a gluten-free diet in hopes that they will lose weight. However, consuming a gluten-free diet when you are not celiac (celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten) has the opposite effect. Harvard professor, Dr. Daniel Leffler warns that adhering to a gluten-free diet is often associated with weight gain and nutrient deficiencies. A few studies showed that a strict gluten-free diet causes inadequate intake of iron, fibre and calcium, due to a limit intake of whole grains.
Other novel formulations are the use of sorghum in pasta and noodles, and the use of konjac glucomannan.
Sorghum is a gluten-free cereal crop that contains 45% of resistant starch and phenolic compound content with high antioxidant activity. In addition, it has a low glycaemic index <65. It is a rich source of fibre, iron, zinc, B vitamins and it is ideal for those suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Konjac glucomannan is a dietary fibre that has been recently used as a food additive in pasta and noodles to treat obesity. It has major health benefits that include lowering of triglycerides, cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and body weight. Many human studies have reported that konjac lowers plasma glucose levels and enhances weight loss. This is mainly attributed to the fact that glucomannan is a fibre and fibres make you satiated for longer, thereby preventing you from overeating.
"One of the most satisfying foods in the world is pasta! Happily, pasta is a universal food, complimentary to many other foods, and adaptable to many cuisines around the world." - Chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi
At Love Yourself, we love pasta, and we have a range of delicious diets such as the performance and the balanced diets with unique pasta dishes for your palate. In line with the novel food trends, we also offer low calorie pasta options made with konjac, especially for people looking to lose weight. You can check this out in our low-carb dietary plan.