PASTA & DIET
Nutrients and health benefits
Pasta is rich in complex carbon hydrates, iron (assists haemospherin production), selenium (powerful antioxidant), calcium (strengthens the bones), phosphorus, proteins and B-complex vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid), while it contains minimal fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Specifically, the proteins contained are high-quality and easy to digest, a particularly appealing quality for infants, children, chronic patients and the elderly who need high-quality proteins.
Also, the phytosteroles offered naturally help reduce blood cholestenone, while the large percentage of tryptophan contained in pasta plays an important role in one’s mood.
According to the latest studies, whole grain pasta and cereal appear to lower the risk of rectal, bladder mouth and ovary cancer, while greatly benefiting the cardiovascular system.
Responsible for those benefits are mainly the phytoestrogens and phylic acid in combination with fiber offered by whole grain products (Nutr Rev, 2003).
In effect, pasta is a pure, natural food τthat offers strenght, slow release energy and important nutrients to the human body.
The question arising is, firstly can we add pasta to our diet and secondly, how frequently?
Let us go over the facts. A small serving of pasta (140gr.) contains less than 1gr. Fat and only 220 calories, roughly 15% of daily caloric requirements, while containing 43gr. Carbon hydrates and 8gr. protein.
The addition of simple sauces with vegetables, red meat, poultry or fish and low-fat dairy can create a healthy, delicious and low calorie meal.
In addition, the complex carbon hydrates pasta contains offer the best source of energy for the human body. The low glycemic index of complex carbon hydrates (the body absorbs them slowly and steadily), unlike simple carbon hydrates (they are absorbed quickly) that rapidly increase blood glycose, acts beneficially in maintaining blood euglycemia and saturation level (Eur J Clin Nutr, 2000).
The slow “burn” of complex carbon hydrates maintains body energy for longer periods, hence pasta is suggested to athletes and small children. Pasta is also a suggested food for the elderly, as it is easier to cook and digest. Although pasta is said to make you fat, nothing of the sort seems to happen. Specifically, pasta lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean food pyramid and moderate consumption creates absolutely no problem with your health or silhouette. This means that, 2-3 times per week, combined with protein-rich foods, pasta can take part in a healthy diet.
Pasta is an excellent source of carbon hydrates, covering the body’s daily needs up to 50-55%, without burdening with fat, cholesterin and sodium. Greater care should probably be given to what accompanies the pasta (sauces, fresh cream, butter) as it can launch the calorie, fat and salt content through the roof.
Pasta in the diet of sensitive categories, such as people suffering from diabetes, elevated levels of uric acid and celiac disease.
- Pasta consumption is suggested to diabetes patients, because pasta has a low glycemic factor, meaning it doesn’t suddenly raise blood glycose.
- Pasta consumption is also suggested to people suffering from elevated levels of uric acid as pasta contains minimal levels of purines (purines are the parts of proteins that turn into uric acid).
- Pasta consumption is NOT suggested to celiac disease patients, due to high gluten content (protein). Patients may consume gluten free pasta.