Pasta continues to be one of the world’s favorite foods. Its increasing popularity in cultures around the globe can be attributed not only to its delicious versatility but also to its contributions as a nutritious complex carbohydrate that, when combined with vegetables and legumes and other healthy pairings, is one of the easiest and healthiest of mealtime choices.
Scientific Consensus on Pasta’s Health Benefits
In October 2015, 20 scientists from nine countries gathered to update the Scientific Consensus Statement on the Healthy Pasta Meal that was originally formulated and signed in Rome in 2004 and updated in 2010. Organized by the non-profit Oldways, the International Pasta Organisation (IPO) and AIDEPI, in conjunction with the 5th World Pasta Congress in Milan, the scientific conference produced a collaborative statement that reinforced the many healthy aspects of pasta and addressed topics including gluten-free fads, sports nutrition and sustainability.
During World Pasta Day on October 25, 2016, Russia, one of the world’s top pasta producers, hosted a veritable “United Nations of Pasta” in Moscow where top Russian scientists added their names to the Consensus Statement.
“As one of the world’s top producers and consumers of pasta, the signature of these top Russian experts is an important addition to our ongoing effort to gain worldwide recognition of the important health, cultural and environmental benefits of pasta.”Sara Baer-Sinnott
The newest signatories were:
- ELENA TIKHOMIROVA– Nutritionist
- VASILY ISAKOV, MD, PhD, AGAF – Professor of Gastroenterology at the Institute of Nutrition (Moscow)
- KSENIA SERGEEVNA SELEZNEVA, PhD, MD – Physician, dietitian and gastroenterologist
- OLEG STEPHANOVICH MEDVEDEV,PhD – Founder and Chairman of the Board of the National Research Center “Zdorovoe Pitanye” (“Healthy Eating”); Head of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Department of Pharmacology (Moscow)
“If you want to be slim and healthy, remember – pasta is a main course, not a side dish,” said Tikhomirova.
Commenting from a sports and health perspective, Ruslan Nigmatullin, former goalkeeper of the Russian national team, said, “Pasta is the perfect combination of all the necessary elements for an athlete —carbohydrates and protein. But in addition pasta is truly delicious.”
Pasta: The Healthy Option
- Made from durum wheat semolina or from the flour of other grains mixed with water and/or eggs pasta is simple and nutritious on its own.
- Because of the way pasta is made, its glycemic index is lower than many other carbohydrate foods like white bread and white rice. This means it has a better impact on blood sugar.
- Pasta is digested slowly, providing steady energy and a prolonged feeling of fullness, which can lead to less consumption of food at the next meal.
- An ideal portion of is one-half to two-thirds of a cup of cooked (80 grams uncooked) pasta.
- When the plate is filled out with fiber-filled vegetables, heart-healthy olive oil and lean sources of protein like fish or beans, healthy pasta meals are linked with higher fiber intake and better diet quality.
- When trying to lose weight, take a balanced approach. Diets successful in promoting weight loss can emphasize a range of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat.
- A study, published in Nutrition & Diabetes, links pasta intake with significantly lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and central obesity. In the study, regular pasta consumption was associated with better adhesion to a Mediterranean-style Diet (foods such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil and seasoned cheese) than less regular consumption of pasta.For more information on health studies related to pasta and the Mediterranean Diet, please see this health summary. You can also learn more through these TEDEd Lessons: Pasta is Good For You, Pasta Does Not Make You Fat and Pasta is Energy That Keeps You Fuller Longer.