Millennium Post

How healthy is your Pasta?

Today being World Health Day, let’s talk about something grainier, rich in fibre, vitamins and equally delicious

Today being World Health Day, let's talk about something healthy and shove aside our regular favourites from the diet chart. For foodies who love to gorge into fried stuff and cheese, it's time that you pull up your socks and head straight to a healthier path by ditching them.

Among all other lip-smacking dishes, pasta finds a place in everybody's list of favourite items. But are you sure that you are consuming the right pasta?

"Most pastas available in Indian market are made of refined flour, and are rich in carbohydrates but no vitamins, minerals and fibre. Consuming large amount of such food can be harmful to health," warns Dr Reeti Kapoor, Senior Manager-Dietetics, Venkateshwar Hospital. "Foods with empty carbs i.e only calories without any other nutritional benefits contribute to weight gain without having other health benefits. However, this doesn't mean that pasta is inherently a bad food. If you love pasta, look for varieties that are made of whole grain which is rich in fibre and vitamins as well apart from carbohydrates," adds Dr Kapoor.

Dr Himanshi Sharma, Sr Dietician, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in the Capital says, "Eat pasta as a base for a healthy snack rich in veggies, lean protein and healthy fats. Choose red sauce instead of white sauce and add a lot of vegetables. To make a healthy dish, one can add herbs, lentils and healthy nuts (almonds and walnut). As of very high carbohydrates content which may cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels."

People who are allergic to gluten must stay away from pasta, since it may affect them with giddiness, and abdominal bloating. There are various types of pasta in terms of ingredients. A 100 per cent whole-grain pasta includes all the layers of the wheat kernel. Since nothing is removed during processing, whole-grain pasta contains more natural fibre and micronutrients than white pasta. They tend to have a chewier texture and "grainier" taste as compared to regular pasta. Blends like whole-wheat-and-white are perfect for families who are trying to make the switch to whole-grain but want to gradually adjust to its taste and texture. Some brands also have unique blends which include beans and lentils along with whole-grain.

"Imported pasta for Indian consumers is made of 100 per cent Italian origin Durum Wheat Semolina (sooji) which makes it about 20-36 per cent higher in protein than other regularly used snacking products like instant noodles. Moreover, durum wheat pasta have negligible fat content, zero trans fats and zero cholesterol which leaves no room for it being treated as a fatty food," explained Rajneesh Bhasin, MD, Borges India.

The carbohydrates in pasta supply the body with glucose which is necessary for providing fuel to the brain and muscles. The National Pasta Association, USA notes that including the right kind of pasta in your diet can benefit your health. Many types of pasta are enriched with vitamins and minerals, so adding them to your diet may help you increase your intake.
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