Pasta Friend or Foe

Pasta: Friend or Foe?

In today’s world it’s impossible to know what to believe. Some say that whole grain pasta is good for you while others avoid whole grains like the plague. Pasta in particular is a favorite that many people don’t want to give up because it tastes great and is a traditional Italian meal that can be enjoyed for practically any meal.

So what should you believe?

What Does “Whole Grain” Really Mean?

The difference between whole and refined grains is simple: whole grains keep the outside bran whereas refined grains are stripped of the outside bran and endosperm. In other words, refined grains are just the meaty inside and none of the fiber-and-vitamin-rich outside.

whole-refined-grains

Image courtesy of Exodus International

In practice, whole grains are better for you because they contain valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that aid in nutrient absorption and transport. I don’t need to be the first to tell you that white grains cause digestive distress and can increase inflammation – you’ve heard this before.

Do Not Trust Food Labels

Federal law does not specify how much “whole grain” goes into whole grain product. In this video below, you can see that some products labeled as “whole grain” contain as little as 15% whole grains, with as much as 85% refined grains. With the exception of bread, the term “whole grain” doesn’t actually mean anything for packaged products, and is simply a marketing ploy to get you to buy their product.

Watch this video below for some insight into just how tricky food manufacturers have become:

Is Pasta Good for You?

The reason why both whole grain pastas and refined pastas are not great choices is simple: they have been processed heavily, resulting in a food that is very low vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

No matter how you slice it, pasta is a heavily processed product, which involves the following steps:

  • Step 1: Durum wheat is harvested from the wheat plant
  • Step 2: The durum wheat kernel is then “cut” in a large machine
  • Step 3: The cut kernel is then sifted and the cut kernels are removed
  • Step 4: The cut kernels are then ground into semolina flour
  • Step 5: The semolina flour is then hydrated with water to make pasta dough
  • Step 6: The pasta dough is then extruded into its final shape
  • Step 7: The pasta is then dried at a low temperature
  • Step 8: The pasta then sits on the shelf for months or years
  • Step 9: The pasta is then boiled and served

The Final Product is Nutritionally…Poor

The result of these steps is a final product that looks like this:

  • Vitamin content: LOW
  • Mineral content: LOW
  • Fiber content: MEDIUM
  • Water content: LOW
  • Antioxidant content: ZERO

Pasta Alternatives

In today’s world, there are many pasta alternatives in the grocery store that use lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, brown rice and beans. These products contain superior nutrition to their wheat counterparts, and taste fantastic.

Ancient Harvest Lentil and Quinoa Pasta

Click here to order this product directly from Amazon

1

Explore Asian Bean Pasta

Click here to order this product directly from the manufacturer.

2

Tolerant Black Bean Pasta

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Tolerant Black Bean Pasta


Banza Chickpea Pasta

Click here to order this product directly from the manufacturer.

Banza Chickpea Pasta

Modern Table Mixed Lentil Penne

Click here to order this product directly from the manufacturer.

Modern Table Mixed Lentil Penne

Take Home Messages

  • Can you eat pasta? Sure.
  • Is pasta considered healthy? Not really.
  • Is pasta highly processed? Yes.
  • Are there better alternatives? Certainly.

Leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite pasta alternative.

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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