Pasta is not the enemy: Why we need to rethink the war on carbs


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Here’s a proposition: We need to reclaim pasta as a healthy food — because, believe it or not, it is!

In our era of endless low-carb fad diets, the only time the phrase “carbo load” isn’t scary is the night before we participate in a race. When did we become so obsessed with as few carbohydrates as possible? 

Yes, there are health risks if we eat a diet too heavy in them — a diet excessively high in carbs has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems and mild cognitive impairment. But there are also dangerous results, such as ketosis, if you don’t eat enough. We need to start thinking like about the benefits of good carbohydrates — which, yes, includes pasta — because the world is a busy place and we need healthy fuel to keep us going.

So let’s look at the facts:

Pasta includes essential nutrients for proper health. Carbohydrates found in pasta, as previously stated, are wonderful fuel for one’s body, while fiber keeps us full and keeps our digestive system functioning properly. Pasta also contains selenium, an antioxidant enzyme activator, and manganese, which helps your body digest carbohydrates. In addition, folates found in whole-grain pastas aid in cell growth and the functioning of red blood cells, while carotenoids help to protect against lung cancer.

There are some options that are healthier than others. Whole-grain and whole-wheat pastas give you the biggest bang for your buck because they retain those nutrients that white pasta options remove during production. Plus, whole grains have a lower glycemic index.

If you’re one of the many people terrified that eating spaghetti will destroy your weight-loss goals, here’s a shocker: Pasta-rich diets have actually been linked to healthier weight and improved quality of life. Opt for the whole-grain variety and you’re looking at even more benefits: In a study of 75,000 women during a 12-year period, those that included whole grains in their diet weighed less than those that didn’t. 

Perhaps it’s time to give up our fear of pasta and invite it back into our healthy diets — just look out for those heavy, creamy sauces and cheeses.