Is Pasta Fattening

The Question of Dieters:  Is Pasta Fattening?


People who are beginning to adopt a healthy diet often have misconceptions about what they should and shouldn’t eat; as a favorite food of numerous people, many ask the question “is pasta fattening?” 


About pasta


Though the actual origins of pasta are vague, there is early documentation from the 5th century A.D. in the Talmud of dried noodles being carried as a portable food by individuals.  Many cultures of embraced the idea of a noodle-like food and adapted it into their diets.


Pasta is made from durum wheat flour called semolina.  Durum is a form of hard kernel wheat, which means it has higher protein content, as opposed to softer wheat which contains more starch.  Though semolina flour has a coarser texture than white all purpose flour, it contains a certain amount of gluten that is essential for giving the dough elasticity when being fashioned into specific shapes.


To make pasta, start with semolina flour.  Oil and eggs are mixed into the flour until a stiff yet smooth dough forms.  Kneading the dough is extremely important to break down the gluten to develop an elastic mixture; approximately 10 minutes of kneading will be required for this process.  The dough should then be allowed to rest for up to one hour before forming into the desired shape.


Nutritional value of pasta


At one time, it was believed that pasta has little nutritional value.  However, now nutrition experts say that an excellent food to incorporate into a grain based diet is pasta.  Fattening ingredients are often added to the pasta which can make it less healthy, but there are a number of ways that people can enjoy the positive value of pasta in the diet without the added fat.


Dieters will be happy to hear that one cup of cooked pasta alone is approximately 200 calories.  The pasta’s bland flavor can be enhanced using a variety of ingredients equally as low in fat and calories, such as fresh, chopped vegetables.  Tomatoes seasoned only with oregano, basil, onion and garlic can top the cooked pasta; adding summer squash, bell peppers, zucchini and spinach can boost the visual appeal and intensify the flavor of the pasta dish without adding useless fat or calories.


In addition, individuals who have issues with cholesterol can eat pasta without worry, as it contains very little, if any, cholesterol; although pastas that include eggs in their ingredient list will have slightly more.  Watching your sodium intake?  Pasta is again a safe choice, with virtually no sodium in the pasta itself.  Because olive oil is normally added to the mixture when the pasta is being made, there will be a degree of fat content; however, olive oil is considered to be a “good” fat that actually aids in weight loss and is therefore a desirable fat in diets.

 


Because pasta is made with wheat, carbohydrates make be an issue for some people in traditionally prepared pastas.  Fortunately, low carb pastas are now available that utilize soy, wheat gluten and rice flour to replace the higher carb choices.  These alternatives can actually be even healthier than standard pasta as they contain higher levels of protein and fiber which are beneficial for health maintenance.


Incorporating healthier foods into a diet does not mean sacrificing favorite foods, one of which is pasta.  Fattening ingredients like butter, cream, regular cheeses and high fat meats can transform a naturally healthy and nutritious dish into one that is high in calories, so it is wise to steer clear of these and opt instead for fresh steamed or grilled vegetables.  This combination of grains, protein and fiber will be delicious and filling; the perfect meal for weight loss and maintenance.