Pasta is Good for You 
March 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.

Optimal health and good nutrition don't come from supplements or specialty bars - they come from balanced, home-cooked meals prepared with nutritious, traditional ingredients. Pasta, a slowly digesting carbohydrate food, is the perfect place to start when building a healthy diet, as is it offers your body a steady source of energy, and pairs wonderfully with vegetables, olive oil, and other foods that nourish our bodies. You can even choose whole grain pasta, to up your intake of healthy whole grain foods.

At the 2015 Scientific Consensus Conference on Healthy Pasta Meals, nutrition scientists from around the world agreed that "Doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals should educate the consumer to choose varied and balanced pasta meals for good health." Many people know that they should be reaching for more leafy greens, beans and leaner proteins, but what they may not realize is that pasta is the perfect canvas to usher in these wholesome ingredients. At the end of the day, the healthiest diet is one that you will actually eat. That's why delicious and nutritious pasta meals are the perfect path to better health.

Experts Say...

While misguided celebrities may mistake gluten free diets as a healthy trend, this medical diet is only recommended for those with a medical diagnosis of celiac disease (which affects only 1 to 2% of the population) or other gluten related disorders (1 to 6% of population). Since such a small percentage of people are diagnosed with gluten-related disorders, healthy pasta meals are the perfect, crowd-pleasing recipes to share among friends and family, and especially for athletes. In fact, a December 2015 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise , found that there was no significant difference in time trial performance of cyclists on either a gluten free or a gluten containing diet, nor were there significant differences in markers of inflammation or intestinal injury.

Luca Piretta, MD,
of the University Campus, Biomedico of Rome (Rome, Italy), discussed the need for accurate information as we continue to be attracted to carbohydrate restricted and gluten-free diets. "45 to 60 percent of our energy should be coming from carbohydrates and gluten-free diets are often fat-rich. While those suffering from celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet there is no evidence that this diet is useful to other patients, obese or healthy people."  Click here to download Prof. Piretta presentation.

For this reason, nutrition researchers from across the globe recommend that " Pasta may be used alone or lightly seasoned before training or combined with other foods after training, in order to improve physical performance." This is because "Pasta, as with other cereal foods, provides carbohydrates and is also a source of protein." The scientists also caution that "High protein and low carbohydrate diets are discouraged in active people."
Michelangelo Giampietro, MD, of the Graduate School of Sports Medicine and Physical Exercise, Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) affirmed, "For the first time, sports nutrition has been mentioned in the Consensus Statement. The right nutrition is important for athletes and the Mediterranean Diet is ideal because of a good mix of complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. Pasta is a great source of complex carbohydrates and is highly recommended for athletes. With the Mediterranean Diet, athletes have no need for supplements." Click here to download Prof. Giampietro's presentation.

Did You Know...

An American survey found that 1 in 2 people had no idea that gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, barley, and rye, and that it helps dough stretch. Over 93% of people can eat gluten, and it has been consumed for centuries in traditional foods like pasta.

Myth: Gluten-free pasta is healthier.

False: Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham brought gluten free diets to the forefront. Yet, while sufferers of celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten in individuals who are genetically susceptible, must adhere to a strictly gluten-free diet, the
rest of us don't. Keep in mind that the group that must avoid gluten is small (1 in 100 people suffer from celiac disease). For those pursuing a gluten-free diet in hopes that they will lose weight, celiac authority and assistant Harvard professor Dr. Daniel Leffler warns that  the opposite effect is just as likely and that adhering to a gluten-free diet is often associated with weight gain. Therefore, gluten-free products aren't necessarily the answer. In addition, gluten positively impacts pasta quality and gives it a specific texture, making it firm to the bite ("al dente") after cooking.

Recipe of the Month

Chickpea Spinach Pasta Salad

This recipe can be made ahead and served chilled -- or enjoyed as soon as it's ready, lukewarm. A very simple and economical recipe, ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta.


6 ounces uncooked whole grain pasta

Juice of one small lemon

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups fresh raw spinach leaves, chopped

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (also called garbanzos), drained and rinsed

2 ounces crumbled feta cheese

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions (about 8 minutes, usually).
  2. While pasta is cooking, mix lemon juice, olive oil and minced garlic in a very large salad bowl.
  3. When pasta is done, drain it and put in bowl with dressing, so it can absorb the lemony sauce.
  4. Add chickpeas and spinach, and toss thoroughly. Sprinkle with feta when ready to serve.
Note: Rotini works well in this recipe, since the little bits of sauce and feta cling to the spirals. Serve lukewarm or chilled, according to your preference.

Nutritional Analysis: 
Calories: 411, Total Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 498mg, Carbohydrate: 59g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 14g

Yield: 4 servings

Video of the Month

Jaime Oliver's Food Tube's fish expert, Bart Van Olphen, shares a Healthy Pasta With Tuna & Veg recipe. Loaded with fresh veggies and using store cupboard ingredients, this is a healthy, easy, and quick mid-week meal. Using a tin of pole and line caught tuna to keep things affordable and sustainable without compromising on the quality or flavor.

Healthy Pasta With Tuna & Veg | Bart's Fish Tales

Healthy Pasta With Tuna & Veg | Bart's Fish Tales

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