Pasta is a nutritious and delicious part of a balanced diet. It has vital nutrients, is a great source of energy, and has a low glycemic index. Though many people understand the nutrient content and energy benefits of pasta, often times there is some confusion around pasta and the glycemic index.
What is the glycemic index? The glycemic index (GI) is the measurement of how fast a carbohydrate-containing food causes blood sugar levels to rise. The higher the number, the faster the sugar rises. Spikes in blood sugar can result in the overproduction of insulin, a hormone which breaks down blood sugar in the body, and can lead to a quick drop in energy, often leaving you hungry again. High GI foods are generally rated at a level of 70 or higher. Carbohydrate foods that are considered low GI, having a level of 55 or lower, break down slowly, take longer for you to digest, and cause only a gradual rise in blood sugar (producing less insulin as well).
So where does pasta fit in? Pasta has a glycemic index of approximately 50 to 55, which is considered low. Add in other healthy low GI foods like high-fiber broccoli and chickpeas and you are sure to enjoy a great meal that not only tastes fabulous but will leave you feeling full and satisfied long after the meal is done.
In fact, pairing pasta with the right ingredients is even more important than worrying about the glycemic index of a single food. What makes the best pasta partners? Foods like colorful vegetables, various legumes, and these other pasta partners can not only create great-tasting meals your family will love, but will also make you feel good about reducing your family’s risk of getting a chronic illness, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stoke, and high blood pressure. By pairing pasta with these other healthy components, you can ensure a healthy diet that is low in sugar, high in nutrients, and is both satisfying and delicious. For more information on pasta and nutrition visit our nutrition page: http://pastafits.org/diet-nutrition/
About Diane Welland MS, RD
Diane Welland is a registered dietitian working with the National Pasta Association. In this role, Diane works closely to interpret new research and nutrition information as it pertains to the pasta industry. She also works directly with the nutrition scientists on a variety of issues and is also on top of the latest nutritional research. Diane frequently presents on nutrition issues.
In her spare time Diane likes to cook, garden, and travel to foodie destinations.
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