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Pasta and Health

  • Pasta is a “good” carb. Carbohydrates are the source of most of the body's glucose, which is the crucial fuel energy source for the brain, red blood cells, muscle and organs. Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.
  • Pasta is not a “white” food. Pasta is golden or amber because it is made from semolina flour, which is ground from durum wheat. White flour used to make white bread is ground from common wheat.
  • Pasta is nutritious. Pasta is a good source of B vitamins, iron and niacin. It is very low in sodium and is cholesterol free.
  • Pasta has a low Glycemic Index (GI) so it does not cause sugar in the blood to rise quickly. The Glycemic index measures how rapidly a carbohydrate triggers a rise in blood sugar; the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response.

Healthy Pasta Meals and The Mediterranean Diet

  • Pasta meals are efficient “delivery systems” for healthy foods. Pasta is eaten with its plate partners, such as vegetables, fish, olive oil, cheese, tomato sauce, beans, poultry and meat. By pairing pasta with ingredients, the complete pasta meal is nutritious and satisfying.
  • Pasta meals are central to the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by abundant variety of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, other forms of cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds), olive oil as the principal source of fat, dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), fish and poultry consumed in low to moderate amounts, zero to four eggs consumed weekly, red meat consumed in low amounts, and wine consumed in low to moderate amounts.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Cereals, which include pasta, are an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet.

Pasta & A Balanced Diet

  • Most international Dietary Guidelines define a well-balanced diet as an eating pattern that get 45-65% of its calories from carbohydrates, 15-20% from protein, and 30-35% from fats.
  • The US Nutrition Facts label defines a serving of pasta as approximately 1 cup cooked (1/2 cup uncooked), containing about 200 calories.

Low-Carbohydrate Diets

  • Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association report there are no significant differences in weight loss between low-carbohydrate diets and conventional weight loss plans. The studies attribute weight-loss to a reduction in calories, not carbohydrates. 2,3

  • A review in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 9, 2003) of low-fat diets conducted between 1966 and 2003, concluded that weight loss from low-carbohydrate diets was the result of length of diet, pre-diet weight, and the number of calories consumed, but not reduced carbohydrate content.4

  • High-protein/high-fat diets have not been clinically proven to provide significant weight-loss benefits over the traditionally accepted low-fat diets. Although people following the diet have reported decreases in weight, a recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA Apr. 9, 2003) concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend or advise against the use of such diets.5
  • Two recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that although a low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss than did a conventional diet for the first six months, the weight loss differences were not significant at one year. The authors concluded that a carbohydrate-restricted diet should not be endorsed until studies evaluating long-term cardiovascular outcomes are conducted.6

Pasta's Famous Palatability

  • Pasta meals are comfort food for families and especially for children (macaroni and cheese); treasured by gastronomes (pasta e pesto); wonderful in movies (Moonstruck); and popular all over the world.
  • In one form or another, pasta is a staple in family meals in Europe, North America, South America, Central Asia, and northern India.

2 Delorenzo, A. Andreoli, Modifications of Dietary Habits, Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2003.

3 Hu, Frank, M.D., The Mediterranean Diet and Mortality, New England Journal of Medicine, June 26, 2003.

4 Bray, George A. Low Carbohydrate Diets and Realities of Weight loss, Journal of the American Medical
Association, April 9, 2003
5 Ibid.
6 Hu, Frank, M.D., The Mediterranean Diet and Mortality, New England Journal of Medicine, June 26, 2003.