Is Eating Pasta Being Good for Health or Not?

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Pasta is rich in carbohydrates, which can prove to be bad for your health if you consume it in large quantities. It also contains gluten, a type of protein that causes problems for those who are sensitive to gluten. On the other hand, pasta can provide some nutrients that are important for health. This article analyzes the beneficial and not-so-beneficial points, in order to determine if the paste is good or bad for your health.

What is Pasta?

Although most people think that pasta is an Italian food, it is actually believed to have originated in ancient China thousands of years ago.  Some types of pasta are refined during processing, eliminating wheat germ and bran, these being excellent sources of protein and insoluble fiber. Sometimes, refined pasta is enriched, which means that some nutrients are added again, such as vitamins B and iron. There is also whole grain or whole wheat pasta, which contains all the nutrients of wheat. Some examples of the types of pasta commonly consumed are:

  • Spaghetti
  • Tortellini
  • Ravioli
  • Pasta
  • Fettuccine
  • Orzo
  • Macaroni

The ingredients commonly used to accompany pasta include: meats, sauces, cheese, vegetables and herbs.

Summary: Pasta is made from durum wheat and water, although it can also be prepared with other grains. You can get pasta of great variety and shapes.

Refined Pasta is the Most Consumed:

Most people prefer refined pasta, which means that both the bran and the germ of the wheat grain have been removed along with many of the nutrients it contains. Refined pasta is higher in calories and lower in fiber. This may cause the feeling of fullness to be less satisfactory after eating, compared to the intake of whole grain pasta, which contains more fiber. In one study it was found that whole grain pasta decreased appetite and increased the feeling of fullness, rather than refined pasta. However, other studies have found mixed results regarding the benefits of whole grain pasta. A study that included 16 participants found that there were no differences regarding blood sugar levels after eating refined pasta or whole grain pasta. Even so, many studies have found that eating a lot of refined carbohydrates can have negative effects on health. For example, a study that included 117,366 people found that high carbohydrate intake, especially refined grains, was related to an increased risk of heart disease. Another study in 2,042 people also found that higher consumption of refined grain was associated with higher blood pressure, blood sugar, bad cholesterol, blood triglycerides and insulin resistance. However, more studies are needed that focus specifically on the health effects of refined pasta.

Summary: Refined pasta is the most popular type of pasta. Eating refined carbohydrates has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Not only in pasta there is such a comparison, cereals can also provide different effects depending on whether they are whole grains or refined cereals

Pasta Integral Against Refined Pasta – Nutrients:

Integral pasta is generally high in fiber, manganese, selenium, copper and phosphorus, while refined and enriched pasta tends to be higher in iron and B vitamins. In addition, whole wheat pasta is lower in calories, higher in fiber and certain micronutrients, compared to refined pasta.

“The fiber moves through the gastrointestinal tract without being processed, which helps you feel fuller after consumption”. 

For this reason, whole grain pasta may be more effective than refined pasta to reduce appetite and cravings.

Summary: Whole grain pasta contains a good amount of fiber, manganese and selenium. Refined pasta is higher in calories, carbohydrates, iron and B vitamins, but low in fiber and usually in the other micronutrients as well.

Pasta is High in Carbohydrates:

Pasta is high in carbohydrates, a serving of a cup of cooked spaghetti contains between 37-43 grams, depending on whether it is refined or whole grain. Carbohydrates break down rapidly into glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in a sharp increase in blood sugar. It is important to note that refined pasta, in particular, is higher in carbohydrates and lower in fiber compared to whole wheat pasta. In addition, simple carbohydrates such as refined pasta are digested very quickly, which increases appetite and increases the risk of eating in large quantities. For this reason, those who have diabetes are advised to keep carbohydrate intake moderate and eat a lot of fiber. Making these changes slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Diabetes:

Some studies have shown that high carbohydrate diets may be associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

 Metabolic Syndrome:

One study found that those who ate a large amount of carbohydrates from starchy foods were more than twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase their risk of heart disease.

Obesity:

Another study found that eating foods with a high glycemic index, which is a measure of how fast foods increase blood sugar, was related to increased body weight. However, all these studies are observational, which means they are based on relationships, but not on evidence. More research is needed to determine how much carbohydrate intake influences these conditions against other factors.

Summary: Pasta is rich in carbohydrates. High carbohydrate diets can raise blood sugar levels and may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. Keeping carbohydrate intake controlled is very important for our health, foods high in carbohydrates can be substituted for others indicated in the best list of low carb foods .

The Gluten in Pasta Can Cause Problems for Some People:

Although there are varieties of gluten-free pasta, traditional pasta contains gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For most people, gluten is well tolerated and does not cause any problems. However, for those who have celiac disease, eating gluten-free foods can trigger an immune response and cause damage to small intestine cells. Some people may also be gluten sensitive, and may experience digestive problems as a result of eating foods that contain gluten. These people should avoid eating pasta made from wheat to prevent negative symptoms. Instead, they can choose to consume pasta made with gluten-free whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa. For those people who do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, then they can consume the gluten found in pasta without problems.

Summary: Many types of pasta contain gluten, a type of protein that can cause adverse reactions in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Is Whole Wheat Pasta the Best Option?

Whole wheat grains possess all their nutrients. As a result, they are richer in fiber, vitamins and minerals, compared to refined grains, which contain only the endosperm of wheat grain. Eating whole grains has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes and obesity. However, it should be borne in mind that whole wheat pasta is made from whole wheat flour, which has gone through its spraying process. This process decreases the beneficial effects of whole grains found in pasta, since grains with smaller particles are digested more quickly, which leads to increases in blood sugar. Therefore, the benefits of pasta made with whole grains are not comparable with the benefits of pasta made from intact whole grains, such as oats, brown rice or quinoa. In spite of all this, there is still little difference in terms of the effects of refined and integral pasta for health; Pasta made with whole grains may be a better option if you are looking to lose weight, since it is lower in calories and higher in fiber, which promotes the feeling of fullness, compared to refined pasta. Wholemeal pasta also contains a good amount of micronutrients, in addition to B vitamins, which can be added to the pasta during processing.

Summary: Wholemeal pasta is made from wheat flour that has been pulverized, decreasing most of the beneficial effects of whole grains. However, such pasta is lower in calories and carbohydrates, and also has a high fiber content and in most micronutrients.

How to Make Pasta in a Healthier Way?

If you eat it in moderation, pasta can be part of a healthy diet. Integral pasta may be a better option for many, as it is lower in calories and carbohydrates, but higher in fiber and nutrients. However, in addition to the type of pasta you choose, what you use to accompany it is equally important. Calories can accumulate quickly when high-fat and calorie dressings are added, such as cream-based sauces and cheeses. If you have your weight under control, you can use a dash of heart-healthy olive oil , some fresh herbs or some of your favorite vegetables. You can also add the protein you like to the pasta to make it a balanced meal. For example, fish and chicken can add some extra protein to make you feel full and satisfied, while broccoli, peppers or tomatoes can provide additional fiber and nutrients.

Summary: To optimize the nutritional value of your pasta dish, add certain ingredients such as proteins, fats and heart-healthy vegetables. Try to limit sauces and cheeses that are high in calories.

In Conclusion:

Pasta is a staple food worldwide and contains some important nutrients. However, pasta is rich in carbohydrates. High carbohydrate diets can raise blood sugar levels and have been associated with some negative health effects. For this reason, it is important to keep portion sizes under control and choose healthy contours for your pasta, such as vegetables, healthy fats and protein. At the end of all, moderation is the key when it comes to pasta. While you can enjoy it occasionally, it is important to combine it with other nutritious foods and make sure it is only a component of a healthy diet in general.

 

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