Pasta Does Not Make You Fat
January 2016 
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.
Evidence that Pasta Does Not Make You Fat

The more we learn about nutrition and health, the more it is clear that a well rounded diet complete with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed foods is the best way to prevent obesity and chronic disease. There are no "quick fixes" or "miracle diets."

As nutrition education gains popularity, people understand that it's important to consider the types of ingredients that go into foods. However, now we are learning that the way foods are produced is just as important, with certain processes being much more healthy than others.

For example, when durum wheat semolina and water are combined to make pasta, the Glycemic Index is low, meaning that pasta won't spike your blood sugar.

However, when the same amount of flour and water are combined to make bread, the Glycemic Index is much higher. Additionally, pasta is the perfect vessel for other nutritious foods, like vegetables, fresh herbs, fish, and olive oil.

Experts Say...

Low carbohydrate diets are the latest fad diet to gain popularity, but experts explain that reducing or eliminating this essential nutrient does not come without risks. Dr. Andrea Poli, of the Nutrition Foundation of Italy, explains that "While low carbohydrate, high protein diets often work in body weight reduction, they can be associated with health risks like higher abdominal adiposity and an increase in cardiovascular disease. In contrast, good carbohydrate diets like the Mediterranean diet, which includes carbohydrates like pasta, vegetables and legumes, and is one of the healthiest diets in the world."

Similarly, according to Marta Garaulet Aza, of the University of Murcia in Spain, and an expert on nutrition and weight loss, "Everything that you eat in a high amount makes you fat. We do not have to forget it. Even fruit. So it is a matter of amount of food eaten. Pasta has been blamed to be causing obesity and this is not correct. We can loose weight during a weight loss treatment while eating pasta. It is not a problem, we only have to eat the right amount of pasta and we must combine it with low calorie ingredients."

Registered Dietitian Keri Gans agrees that pasta is a great "co-star" with other healthy foods. "Sure, if you regularly sit down to a huge bowl of pasta in a rich, creamy sauce without a single veggie in sight, you might gain weight. But that's not how pasta is meant to be eaten." According to Gans, a portion of pasta is "one-half to two-thirds of cooked," and should be "mixed with lots of veggies and a lean protein such as shrimp, beans or chicken." You can view Keri's tips for healthy pasta meals here.
Moms Say...

Nancy Harmon Jenkins, an acclaimed author and foremost authority on Mediterranean cuisine, raised her two children throughout Spain, France, Italy, Lebanon, and Cyprus, absorbing priceless wisdom along the way. With such an immersive education in the Mediterranean lifestyle, it is no surprise that this mom knows firsthand the significance of a healthy pasta meal. 

"As a healthy alternative to fast food, pasta is a quick way to get more tasty vegetables and legumes into your diet -- something every health researcher encourages," writes Jenkins in her latest book, The Four Seasons of Pasta, which she coauthored with her daughter, Sara. "Pasta with vegetables, pasta with beans, pasta with very small quantities of meat-it all fits the profile that organizations from the American Heart Association to Oldways to the Harvard School of Public Health (now called Harvard T. H. Chan School) are urging us to follow."

Continuing the Tradition

Colorful pasta meals have been nourishing families for centuries, long before obesity became an epidemic. With fast food available twenty four-seven in many parts of the world, it is no wonder that more and more people are struggling with weight gain. Returning to a healthier weight will mean returning to the old ways of eating, where people were nourished from balanced meals cooked over the stove.

As families reacquaint themselves with the kitchen, pasta is the perfect easy, healthy meal to turn to. Continuing the tradition of generations past, we can mix pasta with any number of seasonal vegetables, sauces, and toppings, to create a delicious meal that keeps you fuller for longer without making you fat.

Keeping a healthy weight is not as complex as diet companies would like us to believe. By savoring healthy pasta meals with friends and family, we can enjoy both good food and good health.

Video of the Month
In this video, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, a champion of healthy eating,
explains why we shouldn't be afraid of carbs.


Recipe of the Month

One-Pot Pasta
From acclaimed Greek journalist, cookbook author and cooking teacher, Aglaia Kremezi, writing from the Cycladic island of Kea, where she and her husband Costas run a vacation cooking school.  

"I remembered my mother's skordomakarona as I came across the very precise recipe for convenient One Pot pasta. It is a nine-minute affair that involves cooking together in a pot chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, pasta and some water. Of course I adapted the recipe, increasing the amount of olive oil somewhat, added more garlic, and thyme instead of the basil, and I am so pleased with the results that think that from now on I will never make pasta any other way. I intend to create seasonal variations, for example with spinach or bitter wild greens, and later I will add diced zucchini, probably. What makes my version quite different is the addition of crumbled feta at the end. I believe that the combination is ideal!"

12 ounces (360 grams) linguine or Ditallini
12 ounces (360 grams) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3 sprigs fresh oregano (or 2 sprigs basil) plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more good fruity olive oil for serving
Coarse sea salt
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, or more, to taste

  1. Combine the pasta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, red-pepper flakes, herbs, oil,
    1 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet (the linguine should lay flat) or sauté pan.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the mixture, stirring often and turning the pasta frequently with tongs or a wooden fork, until the pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.
  3. Divide among 4 bowls, sprinkle with feta, garnish with herbs and drizzle with fruity olive oil. Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Nutrition Information
Calories: 540, Total Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 7g,
Sodium: 350mg, Total Carbohydrate: 71g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 17g

Adapted from Food 52.

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