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Five science-backed reasons why pasta is actually good for you

by , 05 May 2016

Though some fad diets may have threatened to cast a shadow on pasta of late, research suggests we probably shouldn't throw the pasta out with the bathwater. Meals starring spaghetti and its siblings are credited with providing a dose of fibre, lean plant-based protein, and vitamins and minerals.

(And, uh, doesn't hurt that they are irresistibly delicious!)

Of course, the devil is in the details. Twirling pasta onto our forks alongside nutrient-packed veggies, good fats like olive oil, and powerhouse proteins—as well as keeping portions in control—will ensure pasta keeps its healthy halo. But experts have long known that this Mediterranean style of eating is one of the world's most saintly ways to eat and can help promote health and help prevent disease.

One analysis, whose findings were just presented at Experimental Biology, an expansive scientific conference, even showed that people who regularly consumed pasta as part of a Mediterranean-style diet were less likely to be overweight or obese or have a high body mass index (BMI).

Here are five more science-backed reasons why this time-saving, tummy-satisfying Italian classic should be dubbed part of a super-nourishing weekly meal. Can you say best news ever?

Five reasons to enjoy pasta

#1: You know what it’s made of
Looking for a clean food? Pasta has simple ingredients such as durum wheat and water. Pasta contains no added fat or sugar to boot, and enriched pasta has added vitamins, so you get a bonus of essential B vitamins and iron, which helps carry oxygen to the muscles and the brain.
 
#2: It's high in fibre
It’s an undisputed fact: Most people don't hit their recommended intake of 25 to 38 g of fibre every day. More research presented at Experimental Biology 2016 showed pasta eaters as a whole had significantly higher fibre intakes than non-pasta eaters. Including pasta in the diet—and better yet, using it as a canvas for adding crunchy, fibrous veggies and fibre-packed legumes—can help us tally toward that daily quota.
 
What’s more, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, diets low in fat and rich in fibre-containing grain products, fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.
 
#3: It’s best to be calculating about carbs
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in our food and help us function. Choosing complex carbs is the healthiest way to get your daily dose.
 
And did you know that pasta has a low glycemic index, even lower than oatmeal and quinoa? Whole wheat and enriched white pasta are good carbs because they break down more slowly in the body than many other refined grains, helping to keep blood sugar levels from abruptly rising and crashing, which can cause cravings and energy depletion.
 
Perhaps this is why the aforementioned study showed that adults who ate pasta regularly were less likely to be overweight than those who ate pasta less often. It’s important to remember that not all refined grains are created equal!
 
#5: Pasta paves the way for proteins
Health experts say the combination of carbs and protein gives a steadier supply of energy for hours after you’ve eaten, helpful in tackling everything from staying focused at work to doing high-intensity cardiovascular exercise.
 
Speaking of exercise, the same power pairing of protein and carbs can aid in muscle recovery after an intense workout. To achieve it in every bowl of pasta, add nuts to bring texture and crunch as well as a welcome protein boost, chop up lean organic chicken, or add responsibly-caught fish like wild salmon that contain healthy omega fatty acids, which can help protect your brain cells, upping your mood and overall brain function

#5: It's sustainable
Variety is the spice of life, but in this case, it’s also better for the planet. As a plant-based food, pasta itself has a lower carbon footprint than other animal-based food groups like meat, ultimately reducing environmental impact and making it a more sustainable way to eat. So go ahead and pile on the produce, marinara, and herbs!

PS: Still trying to figure out which diet is best for you? Read this to help you figure that out!

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