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Healthy community, healthy you – pasta – noodle lover's dish

Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough

Special to the Village News

Pasta is one of those foods that gets a bad reputation, but remains a popular staple of the American diet. The truth lies in the type of pasta, what you're eating with it, and the quantity you are consuming. The traditional restaurant's serving size for your dish is nearly four servings, which is well over the amount you should have or even need in one meal. Pasta can be part of a healthy diet, but we don't associate spaghetti and meatballs on a tiny plate.

The concern with overeating pasta is that it's high in carbohydrates. Noodles are made of eggs, durum wheat, and water, and they're shaped in various types and cooked in boiling water. There is not much to it. Most noodles are made from common wheat, but there are now other variations made of barley, rice, or buckwheat. Sometimes in the process of making noodles they're refined, which strips many of the nutrients. Because of this, some noodles are enriched with iron and/or B12 vitamins. That is why whole-grain noodles are becoming more popular. There are many types to choose from, including penne, tortellini, macaroni, orzo, ravioli, fettuccine, and spaghetti.

We really do have to consider how much we are eating at one time. In 100 grams of pasta, there are 288 calories and 55 grams of carbohydrates. This means if we had a couple servings of pasta, we are having nearly 100 grams of carbs in one meal alone. We know we still have other carbs in our diet that day. That's not to say carbohydrates are all bad, but it's the excessive amount we eat that eventually gets stored as fat. You can have pasta and a healthy diet, but you have to read labels, stick to appropriate servings, and be mindful of what toppings are on the pasta. Keep in mind a half cup of marinara sauce has about 580 mg of sodium, while the daily allowance is 2300 mg. Most people aren't conservative with sauces and probably have well over one cup of it. There are other sauces, oils, sausages, and toppings that are packed with taste, but can add to the calories and fat we don't need.

One serving of pasta might seem like a tease in a world where we are told to go for the second serving. Food is love and the more we eat of someone's cooking, the more appreciated they feel for the meal they've served. You can have pasta and keep within reason, but don't fool yourself if you know your willpower will falter. It may not be the meal you order or the dinner you cook. Noodles just have that feel good, taste good, and goes with anything nature about them. It's hard to turn down a big bowl of yummy pasta.


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