Is pasta a junk food? (a truthful answer)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Is pasta junk food? We will discuss the nutritional value of pasta, its benefits, and its drawbacks. Finally, we will explain the effect of pasta on your health. 

Is pasta a junk food?

Pasta is not exactly junk food. It is a very common option on all menus and tremendously popular in most of the world. It is part of a healthy diet, present in the Mediterranean and Atlantic diet. The consumption of pasta made from whole-grain cereal is present in both types of diet and improves weight control and cardiovascular risk.

It is a dish of Italian origin that is widely accepted by children and young people, without forgetting that it is widely consumed in the menu of the elderly.

Some types of pasta provide a greater amount of carbohydrates, so this aspect must be taken into account when calculating the calories in the daily menu to avoid overweight and obesity.

Given its amount of carbohydrates, the presence of gluten in its composition, and its glycemic index, it is reasonable to think if it is a healthy option on the menu.

People who consume diets with low glycemic index products such as fruits, vegetables, vegetables, or pasta, have sustained weight losses, without being associated with weight gains.

Does pasta cause weight gain?

The glycemic index assesses the speed and increase in the concentration of glucose in the blood after the ingestion of food, and directly affects how the inner layers of blood vessels are damaged, the main cause of the development of atheroma plaques that cause brain complications or heart attacks.

The faster the absorption of the sugar content of that food, the higher the glycemic peak or blood sugar concentration.

In general, foods with a low glycemic index can improve a person’s weight control, and reduce the risk of heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Although years ago it was advocated that people with diabetes should not eat pasta, this statement has changed in the light of scientific evidence from different studies. Pasta can be part of a healthy diet for diabetic and non-diabetic people.

However, it should be remembered that the size of the servings should be limited, as well as the accompaniments with sauces rich in sugar or fat. It is more advisable to opt for pasta made with wholemeal flours, or from legumes such as beans or lentils, which are more nutritious.

How does pasta affect our health?

Pasta made from refined flours have a higher glycemic index and are not so recommended from a nutritional and cardiovascular risk point of view, although they are a valid option in more limited quantities.

In some countries, there is a belief about the gluten content in pasta, as a negative element from a cardiovascular point of view.

Unless a person is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease, there is no scientific evidence that eating a gluten-free diet improves cardiovascular health.

These gluten-free products may not only be more expensive, but they may be less healthy with less fiber or protein, and higher concentrations of sugar or fat than regular pasta.

 Some types of pasta can be enriched or supplemented with iron or vitamins, but it is advisable to take pasta made from whole wheat flours, which contain all the fiber and nutritional elements necessary in the context of a healthy diet.

Pasta can have different shapes and sizes, which favors the diversity of presentations and enhances the creativity of the dishes to make them more palatable and accepted. The best-known pasta varieties are macaroni and spaghetti, but we can also talk about fettuccine, ravioli, lasagna, tortellini, or the delicious cannelloni.

Some ideas for these types of pasta to be the basis of a healthy meal can be:

  • Pasta with greens and vegetables;
  • Pasta with fish if we need protein;
  • Add homemade sauces, better than purchased
  • Use extra virgin olive oil, with a maximum of 2 tablespoons per plate
  • Use low-fat cheeses, or if this is not possible, limit their quantity
  • Limit pasta portions to a quarter of the plate, which should be completed with vegetables in two more parts and a quarter more with meat or fish.

In short, is pasta healthy?

If it is taken in its adequate quantity and nutritionally acceptable contents such as greens or vegetables are added, it can be healthy. If store-bought sauces are added, or with side dishes rich in sugars, fats, or calories, then we can’t say it’s that healthy.

Even though pasta, bread, potatoes, or rice have a high percentage of carbohydrates in their composition, it is not advisable to eliminate them from our daily diet, even if we are looking to lose weight. The ideal is to include them but in a sensible way.

Remember that carbohydrates provide the same calories as protein and less than fat, so there is no reason to eliminate them from the diet. We should prefer whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits and avoid high sugar consumption and refined products. A healthy and balanced diet is always associated with a decrease in the incidence of many diseases.

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