Table of Contents Hide
- Pasta Nutritional Profile
- How Many Nutrients in This Food
- How To Serve Nutritious Pasta Food
- Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Pasta Food
- How To Buying This Food
- How To Storing This Food
- How To Preparing This Food
- What Happens When You Cook Pasta Food
- How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Pasta Food
- Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits Of Pasta
- Adverse Effects Associated with Pasta Food
See also Flour.
Pasta Nutritional Profile
• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: Moderate
• Fat: Low
• Saturated fat: Low
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: High
• Fiber: Low to High
• Sodium: Low
• Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins
• Major mineral contribution: Iron
How Many Nutrients in This Food
• The basic ingredients in pasta are water plus flour or semolina (the coarsely milled inner part of the wheat kernel called the endosperm).
• Whole wheat pasta, which is darker than ordinary pasta, is made with whole wheat flour. Egg noodles are made with flour and water plus eggs. Spinach pasta adds dried spinach for taste and color. High-protein pasta is fortified with soy flour.
• Light pasta is treated to absorb more water than regular pasta. Imitation pasta is made with flour ground from Jerusalem artichokes rather than wheat.
• Rice noodles are made with rice flour, cellophane noodles with flour ground from sprouted mung beans. All pasta is high-carbohydrate (starch) food.
• Since semolina is virtually all protein, the more semolina the pasta contains, the more protein it provides. The proteins in pasta are considered “incomplete” because they are deficient in the essential amino acids in lysine and isoleucine. Pasta made without eggs has no fat and no cholesterol.
• All pasta is a good source of the B vitamins thiamin (vitamin B1) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Pasta made with flour also contains nonheme iron, the inorganic form of iron found in plants, which is harder for your body to absorb than the iron in foods of animal origin.
• One serving (two ounces, dry) enriched spaghetti has 1.8 g dietary fiber, 7.9 g protein, 0.9 g total fat, no cholesterol, and 1.9 mg iron (11 percent of the RDA for a woman, 23 percent of the RDA for a man). One serving (two ounces, dry) enriched egg noodles has two grams of dietary fiber, eight grams of protein, 2.5 g total fat, 48 mg cholesterol, and 2.3 mg iron (13 percent of the RDA for a woman, 29 percent of the RDA for a man).
How To Serve Nutritious Pasta Food
• With meat, eggs, or milk products (cheese), which supply lysine and isoleucine to “complement” the proteins in the pasta.
• With beans or peas. Grains are deficient in the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine but contain sufficient amounts of tryptophan, methionine, and cystine. Beans and peas are just the opposite. Together, their proteins are complementary. With a food rich in iron (meat) or a food rich in vitamin C (tomatoes).
• Both enhance your body’s ability to absorb the iron in pasta. The meat makes your stomach produce more acid (which favors the absorption of iron); the vitamin C converts the iron from ferric iron (which is hard to absorb) to ferrous iron (which is more available to your body).
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Pasta Food
• Gluten-restricted, gliadin-free diet (all pasta made with wheat flour)
How To Buying This Food
Tightly sealed packages. If you can see into the box, pick the pasta that looks smooth and shiny. Dry or dusty pasta is stale; so is pasta that is crumbling. The yellower the pasta, the more durum wheat it contains. (Egg noodles get their yellow from eggs.) Whole wheat pasta is brown.
How To Storing This Food
Store pasta in the air- and moistureproof glass or plastic containers. Pasta will stay fresh for about a year, egg noodles for six months.
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How To Preparing This Food
• To cook pasta most efficiently, start with salted water. At sea level, water boils at 212°F (100°C), the temperature at which its molecules have enough energy to escape from the surface as steam. If you add salt, the water molecules will need to pick up more energy to push the salt molecules aside and escape from the surface.
• In effect, adding salt forces the water to boil at a higher temperature, which means the pasta will cook more quickly. The water should be boiling furiously before you add the pasta so that it can penetrate the pasta’s starch granules as fast as possible. Add the pasta slowly so that the water continues to boil and the pasta cooks evenly.
What Happens When You Cook Pasta Food
• Starch consists of molecules of the complex carbohydrates amylose and amylopectin packed into a starch granule. When you boil pasta, water molecules force their way into the starch granules.
• When the water reaches a temperature of approximately 140°F, the amylose and amylopectin molecules inside the starch granules relax and unfold, forming new bonds between atoms on different molecules and creating a network inside the starch granule that traps water molecules. The granules bulk up and the pasta gets thicker.
• In fact, the starch granules can hold so much water that plain flour and water pastas like spaghetti, macaroni, and lasagna will actually double in size.
• The longer you cook the pasta, the more likely it is that the starch granules will absorb too much water and rupture, releasing some of their starch and making the pasta sticky. One way to keep the pieces of pasta from sticking together is to cook them in a large pot, which gives them room to boil without hitting their neighbors.
• Or you might add a tablespoon of olive oil to make the pasta slick enough to slide apart. If you plan to refrigerate the cooked pasta, drain it, rinse it in warm water (to wash off the starch on the outside), and toss it with olive oil.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Pasta Food
Canning and freezing.
When pasta is canned or frozen in sauce, its starch granules continue to absorb the liquid and the pasta becomes progressively more limp.
Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits Of Pasta
A lower risk of some kinds of cancer.
In 1998, scientists at Wayne State University in Detroit conducted a meta-analysis of data from more than 30 well-designed animal studies measuring the anti-cancer effects of wheat bran, the part of grain with highest amount of the insoluble dietary fibers cellulose and lignin.
• They found a 32 percent reduction in the risk of colon cancer among animals fed wheat bran; now they plan to conduct a similar metaanalysis of human studies. Pasta made with whole grain wheat is a good source of wheat bran.
NOTE: The amount of fiber per serving listed on a food package label shows the total amount of fiber (insoluble and soluble). Early in 1999, however, new data from the long running Nurses Health Study at Brigham Women’s Hospital/Harvard University School of Public Health showed that women who ate a high-fiber diet had a risk of colon cancer similar to that of women who ate a low-fiber diet.
• Because this study contradicts literally hundreds of others conducted over the past thirty years, researchers are awaiting confirming evidence before changing dietary recommendations.
• However, early the following year, new data from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, showed no difference in the risk of colon cancer between women who ate a high-fiber diet and those who did not. Nonetheless, many nutrition researchers remain wary of ruling out a protective effect for dietary fiber.
• They note that there are different kinds of dietary fiber that may have different effects, that most Americans do not consume a diet with the rec- ommended amount of dietary fiber, and that gender, genetics, and various personal health issues may also affect the link between dietary fiber and the risk of colon cancer.
Note : The current recommendations for dietary fiber consumption are 25 grams per day for women younger than 50, and 21 grams per day for women older than 50; 38 grams per day for men younger than 50, and 30 grams per day for men older than 50.
As a source of increased energy for athletes.
When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into glycogen, which is stored in our muscles. When we need energy we convert the stored glycogen to glucose, the fuel on which our bodies run. Athletes who engage in the
kind of strenuous exercise that can lead to exhaustion in 45 minutes need more glycogen than people who lead sedentary lives. Without the extra glycogen, they will run out of energy in midgame or midmarathon.
• One way to increase the amount of glycogen in the muscles is to increase the amount of high-carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, in the diet, a regimen known as carbohydrate loading.
• The classic carbohydrate-loading diet developed in Scandinavia in the 1960s calls for two days on a very low-carbohydrate diet plus very heavy exercise to deplete the muscles’ normal store of glycogen, followed by three days of very little exercise and a diet which is 70 to 90 percent carbohydrates.
• Because so many athletes are reluctant to stop exercising for three days before an event, a modified version of this regime, developedat Ball State University in Indiana, suggests two days on a normal diet with normal to heavy exercise, then three days on a diet very high in carbohydrates while exercise tapers down to nothing on the day before the event. According to a number of studies by sports-medicine researchers, both versions of the carbohydrate-loading diet appear to increase the amount of glycogen in the athlete’s muscles and thus to increase long-term stamina.
As a source of carbohydrates for people with diabetes.
Pasta is digested very slowly, producing only a gradual rise in blood-sugar levels. As a result, the body needs less insulin to control blood sugar after eating pasta than after eating some other high-carbohydrate foods (rice,
bread, or corn). In studies at the University of Kentucky, a bean, whole grain, vegetable, and fruit-rich diet developed at the University of Toronto and recommended by the American Diabetes Association enabled patients with type 1 diabetes (who do not produce any insulin themselves) to cut their daily insulin intake by 38 percent.
• For patients with type 2 diabetes (who can produce some insulin), the bean diet reduced the need for injected insulin by 98 percent. This diet is in line with the nutritional guidelines of the American Diabetes Association, but people with diabetes should always consult their doctor and/or dietitian before altering their diet.
Your mood is affected by naturally occurring chemicals called neurotransmitters that allow cells in your brain to transmit impulses from one to the other. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is the most important constituent of serotonin, a “calming” neurotransmitter.
• High-carbohydrate foods like pasta help move tryptophan into your brain, increasing your ability to use serotonin. Eating pasta can be a soothing, calming act.
Adverse Effects Associated with Pasta Food
According to the Merck Manual, wheat is among the foods most often implicated as a cause of the classic food allergy symptoms upset stomach, hives, skin rashes, angioedema (swelling of the face, eyes, and lips). For more information, see under wheat cereals.
Gluten intolerance (celiac disease).
Celiac disease is an intestinal allergic disorder that results in an inability to absorb the nutrients in gluten and gliadin. People with celiac disease cannot absorb the nutrients in wheat or wheat products, such as pasta. Corn flour, potato flour, rice flour, and soy flour are gluten- and gliadin-free. So are pasta products made of flour ground from Jerusalem artichokes.
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