NYS Certified Nutritionist

Produce Intake Among Adult Pasta Eaters

Yet again, the Mediterranean Diet demonstrates its value to preservation of health, with its emphasis on eating al dente pasta, prepared as it would be in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy. We Americans can learn so much from our Mediterranean cousins, as reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, quoting data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, covering the first twelve years of this century.

First, pasta that is prepared al dente, is firm, not mushy, or even tender. This authentic approach to preparation prevents the carbohydrates in the pasta from being converted to glucose too rapidly, moderating its glycemic load. By the way, pasta prepared to the tooth [the translation from the Italian] is more interesting, providing a pleasing texture.

Second, because pasta is often topped by, or mixed with vegetables, the data show that more vegetables are consumed by regular pasta eaters, than non-pasta eaters. Moreover, pasta lovers consume less saturated fat, more whole grains, and less sugar than people who avoid eating pasta.

Third, the produce preferred by the pasta eaters tended to be more deeply colored, providing the highest levels of vitamins. Naturally, tomatoes [botanically classified as a fruit] are traditionally served on pasta, and provide a terrific source of minerals including potassium, lycopene, many B vitamins as well as vitamins K and C. But, any deeply colored vegetables, with seasonings are a wonderful addition to pasta.

A healthy option on our menus, pasta can be served hot or cold, providing a platform for lean, nourishing, one dish meals, with an emphasis on the health-providing plant-based style of eating preferred by the healthiest, longest lived populations on Earth. Enjoy!

Dateline: Town of Colonie, Albany County, New York State’s Capital Region