UNITED STATES—Pasta. It’s a food that has been getting a bad rap for years for its high carbohydrate content. Many people associate pasta with carbs, which are deemed deleterious. But this is simply a misconception. The truth is, carbs are essential for the body.

I spent years demonizing carbs. I shunned most carbs from my diet thinking it would solve all my weight loss problems. I was told the anti-carb diets were the way to go, which lead me to give up one of my favorite foods, pasta. However, the more I deprived myself of foods that I liked, such as pasta, the more I wanted to consume them. Once I realized that depriving myself was not an option, I began doing some research, through which I uncovered some surprising findings. I’m about to share why pasta is actually good for you!

The Facts

Pasta, surprisingly, has a very low glycemic index (GI), which measures how fast foods and drinks containing carbs, raise blood sugar levels. High-GI foods are more likely to spike the blood sugar as opposed to low-GI foods. While most types of pasta are considered low-GI foods, whole-wheat pasta is considered to be more nutritious, due to its higher fiber, protein, and vitamin content. In other words, if you want to eat pasta, go for the whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

It appears that a little bit of tempting foods are actually good for you, according to a research study conducted in Italy in 2016. Findings showed that pasta consumption is linked to a lower body mass index (BMI), which is utilized to determine an individual’s body fat level based on their sex, age, height, and weight. The study, published in the Nutrition and Diabetes Journal, concluded, “Pasta consumption was negatively associated with BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio and with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity.” So, did this study just conclude that pasta is not the culprit of weigh gain and obesity? I think so.

What the Doctor Ordered

Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. has disproved the myth about pasta being unhealthy and fattening. He explains that not all carbs should be avoided, including pasta. He noted that people who eat pasta tend to be slimmer than people who don’t.

In his own words, “Carbs are in, butter is out!”

Doctor’s orders: Go ahead, eat pasta.

Italy: Pasta Central

What if I told you that many Italians consume pasta at least once a day. I know what you’re probably thinking: That is an unhealthy diet. However, it is just the opposite. Guido Barilla, CEO of the largest pasta company, Barilla, revealed that he eats pasta everyday, and sometimes even twice a day. Yes, you read that right. Just like in the Mediterranean diet, Italians use pasta as the base of their food diet.

So, how do Italians get away with eating pasta everyday? The key is portion control and simple pasta recipes.

Moderation and Simplicity

Pasta should be enjoyed in moderation, just like many other high-carb foods, which is why it is important to be mindful of portion sizes. The standard portion of pasta is one cup of cooked pasta, which is approximately 220 calories, 1 gram of fat and zero cholesterol. While portion control is important, the ingredients you add to your pasta dish are just as important. If you consume pasta that is smothered in cheese and fatty meats, you are bound to gain weight. Keep your pasta recipes simple and try healthy substitutions for your pasta recipes.

Healthy and Delicious Pasta Recipes

Here are some healthy and delicious pasta recipes that everyone can enjoy.  Bon Appétit!

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo from Gimme Some Oven
1. Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo from Gimme Some Oven

This skinny fettuccine alfredo recipe features a healthier version of the alfredo sauce, without giving up the creamy texture and flavor. Get the easy recipe here.

Garlic Chili Pasta With Roasted Cauliflower from Minimalist Baker
2. Garlic Chili Pasta With Roasted Cauliflower from Minimalist Baker

This is a perfect quick and healthy pasta recipe that is sauce-less and vegan. This recipe includes olive oil infused in garlic and chili, fresh parsley, and vegan cheese. Before you think it is boring, try it out! Get the recipe here. 

Skinny Lasagna Rolls from Primavera Kitchen
3. Skinny Lasagna Rolls from Primavera Kitchen

Who said lasagna can’t be healthy? This healthy recipe of skinny lasagna rolls features whole wheat lasagna, part-skim milk ricotta, and mozzarella.  A perfect lasagna recipe with the right ingredients, without sacrificing the taste. Get the recipe here.

Healthy Mac and Cheese from Pinch of Yum
4. Healthy Mac and Cheese from Pinch of Yum

This saucy mac and cheese recipe is nothing short of delicious. It features ingredients such as whole wheat elbow macaroni, butternut squash, yellow onion, and chicken (or vegetable) broth. Get the recipe here.

The Bottom Line

Here is the reality, pasta is not the problem, carbs are not the problem, but its what’s often associated with those foods. If you are eating pasta with a lot of cheese and fatty meats, then yes, it is unhealthy and will lead to weight gain, but if you eat pasta in moderation with a balanced amount of sauce, dairy ingredients, veggies, etc., then you are winning! So don’t be scared to eat a little pasta; it won’t kill you.

Written By Michelle Zverev