Pasta: Good or Bad?

by in Food News, Healthy Recipes, February 3, 2009

Thankfully, the low-carb diet craze is on its way out, but during the anti-starch explosion, pasta took a severe beating. But pasta is GOOD! Here’s why…

The Nutrition Facts
One cup of cooked spaghetti has approximately 220 calories, 1 gram of fat and no cholesterol. Most pastas on the market are enriched with iron too. Whole grain pastas contain about the same calories as regular pasta but have more protein, fiber and vitamins. As an added bonus, all that protein and fiber means that you’ll feel more satisfied by eating less.

Your choices don’t stop at whole wheat; other whole grain pastas include brown rice (my personal fave), corn and soba. Barilla also makes the tasty Barilla Plus, which has fiber, protein and added omega-3 fats (Toby’s kids are huge fans).

The reason that low-carb promoters bashed pasta is actually the main reason it’s so good for you! Pasta is great source of carbohydrate, the body’s primary source of energy (your brain runs on carbs and carbs alone –- that’s pretty important, no?).

So instead of looking at pasta as the enemy, embrace it as a vital energy source. The trick is making pasta part of a varied diet (read on).

Serve It Up!
Portion control is most important. Eating huge portions of pasta smothered with cheese or a heavy cream sauce expands waistlines. Keep portions to 1 to 1 1/2 cups per person and add vegetables and lean meats, beans or fish to balance out the meal.

Just about every cuisine on the planet has traditional pasta dishes. Enjoy wheat pasta with tomato and olives or a light cream sauce. Try rice noodles wrapped with veggies, or lo mein noodles (made from wheat flour) with an Asian-inspired sauce. I love to stir fry vegetables with some soy sauce, add cooked brown rice spaghetti, Srirahca chili sauce and a heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter. Toss to combine and melt the peanut butter and you have a fabulous dinner in minutes.

The Bottom Line:
As with everything, enjoy pasta in moderation — be mindful of portion sizes and experiment with all the glorious varieties.

Photo by G & A Scholiers

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Comments (29)

  1. Janice says:

    My family loves pasta and it’s so fast and easy. I also buy Barilla Plus for the extra nutrition and my kids love red sauce so with a salad or sauteed broccoli on the side we are good to go!

  2. Mary says:

    I’m so glad you posted the goods on pasta. What i’ve learned from weight watchers is it’s all in the portions. You can eat pasta, just eat a little! Thanks again!

  3. It’s so important to recognize that just because a certain food gets labeled as “bad” by one diet, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed healthily. The concept of making your own pasta may seem intimidating, but my site has this recipe: Pistachio Lovers Pasta, Whole Wheat Hazelnut Pasta and Pumpkin Ravioli. It’s easy – not to mention nutritious!

  4. tommie says:

    I have always thought of pasta as very fattening and bad for you thanks for the truth about something I love…

  5. Leanne says:

    Pasta is not only good for you, it is very satisfying. The Barilla Plus is great because of the protein, but also because it is almost impossible to overcook any Barilla pasta.

  6. Nancy says:

    The Bad pasta is the enriched white flour stuff. Whole wheat or barilla plus are certainly the better choice also soba noodles and are far and above more healty. Jsut don’t think that white flour is “good” for you, it isn’t

  7. Sandra Di Sario says:

    you forgot about pasta made from quinoa, rice or kamut flour that are great for your health!!!!!!

  8. Frances says:

    Sadly, when you turn diabetic, pasta is a bad carb. Blood sugars can go crazy. High protein and high fiber are best diets. Sugar, rice, wheat flours, high starch vegetables, high carb grains are just a few examples of bad carbs, not to mention high carb fruits.

  9. Maria says:

    I love pasta as much as rice. Being Mexican, I grew up eating rice, lots of rice! Unfortunatelly as an adult I now suffer from Type 2 Diabetis and therefore pasta shoots my sugar to the sky! Sorry to contradict, but pasta is not good for everyone, specially those with diabetis…

  10. Judy says:

    Dreamfields Pasta is great for diabetics with a Glycemic Index of 13 (compared to 38 with regular pasta)and 5g of digestible carbs per serving.

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