Pasta is a Pillar of the Mediterranean Diet

July 2017  
Welcome to the new issue of The Truth About Pasta, the monthly newsletter from the International Pasta Organization. Each month's newsletter features a new and different topic -- all pointing to The Truth About Pasta. The truth is...pasta is healthy, sustainable, convenient, delicious, affordable, doesn't make you fat, and much, much more. Be sure to look for each new issue, with more topics and information.
The Mediterranean diet is heralded by nutrition scientists and health professionals a tried-and-true way to promote good health and well-being. Even today, researchers continue to draw connections between this gold-standard pattern of eating and lower rates of disease. Traditional Mediterranean Diets emphasize a variety of grains (like pasta), pulses, vegetables, fruits, fresh herbs, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Seafood, and traditional cheeses are also key characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine.
The Mediterranean was a natural region for the rapid embrace of durum wheat pasta, because of the favorable growing conditions in the Fertile Crescent. Historians note that pasta was part of Italy's daily fare by the fourteenth century, and its popularity quickly expanded throughout the region. Today, you might find pastitsio in Greece (similar to lasagna), pasta alla norma in Sicily (pasta with tomato sauce and eggplant), or fideu√° in Spain (like paella, but made with pasta instead of rice). These dishes are just a few examples of how traditional Mediterranean families used pasta to help coax seasonal vegetables and small amounts of local meats, cheeses, and seafood into a cohesive, nutritious meal.

Experts Say:

Health experts are no strangers to the versatility of healthy pasta meals in a Mediterranean style diet. At the 2015 Scientific Consensus Conference on Healthy Pasta Meals, scientists from around the world came together and explained pasta's distinctive contribution to health. They concluded that "Pasta is a key component of many of the world's traditional healthy eating patterns, such as the scientifically-proven Mediterranean Diet. Most plant-based dietary patterns help prevent and slow progression of major chronic diseases and confer greater health benefits than current Western dietary patterns."

Even in nations far from the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean diet is upheld as a reputable model of healthy eating. The Mediterranean Diet is one of the three recommended eating patterns in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Similarly, Dr. Oleg Stephanovich (left), who is Founder and Chairman of the Board of the National Research Center for Healthy Eating in Moscow, explained at the 2016 World Pasta Day Conference that "introducing elements of the Mediterranean Diet is one of our objectives," in Russia.   


Did you Know:
The Mediterranean Diet is recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) on the  Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This means that the United Nations recognizes that the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean Diet are so important to humanity that they must be safeguarded. Practice preserving the Mediterranean Diet in your own home by making a traditional Mediterranean pasta recipe.

Video of the Month   
Watch this video to learn more about why
Pasta is the Pillar of the Mediterranean Diet.   
Then, test your knowledge in this TED-Ed lesson

Recipe of the Month 

Spicy Spanish Spaghetti with Sausage and Mussels
1 lb. mussels
4 oz. spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz. dried cured spicy chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup dry white wine
Large pinch saffron threads
1 cup passata (strained tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Scrub mussels if needed and remove any beards. Discard any mussels with cracked shells and any that do not close when tapped; set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium-high heat; cook sausage, onion, roasted pepper, garlic and smoked paprika for 2 to 3 minutes or until sausage starts to brown. Stir in tomato paste; cook for 1 minute.
  4. Pour in wine and stir in saffron threads; simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in passata; bring to boil.
  5. Add mussels; cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes or until mussels open; discard any mussels that do not open.
  6. Add pasta and parsley to pan; toss well. Serve with lemon wedges.
  • To roast red pepper: Broil pepper on foil-lined tray until charred all over. Transfer to bowl; cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove skin. (Alternatively, grill pepper over high heat.)
Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Information:
Per serving: 327 calories, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 508 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 7 g sugars, 19 g protein

A Pasta Fits original recipe.

Follow us

For more information, contact

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.