Mangia! It’s Pasta Month

October is pasta month – a great time to celebrate this versatile and tasty food.

Healthy Food

By Kristen Castillo

Did you know? Every year Americans eat six billion pounds of pasta!

October is pasta month – a great time to celebrate this versatile and tasty food. Whether you love spaghetti, rotini, orzo or any other macaroni variety, there’s something about pasta that’s so yummy!

This Italian staple can be good for you, too. According to the National Pasta Association, pasta is low-sodium and rich in folic acid.

Whole wheat pasta can provide nutrients such as iron and B vitamins.  A cup of whole wheat pasta can deliver up to 25 percent of your daily fiber, too, helping you feel full and aiding in digestion.

Whole wheat pasta is also a great source of complex carbohydrates, giving you a slow release of energy.  Since it has a low glycemic index (GI), whole grain pasta doesn’t cause your blood glucose levels to spike.

Pasta Pairings

Most pasta dishes are easy to make and even easier to enjoy. Whether you’re cooking the noodles at home or getting them at a restaurant, there are lots of pasta varieties and meal options to consider.

Balance is key. Pair pasta with nutritious foods including beans and vegetables such as tomato, zucchini and broccoli; poultry and lean meats, and fish and monounsaturated oils, which are heart healthy. Choose light sauces like tomato-based ones or marsala, made with wine.

Typically pasta dishes are the main course or a side dish. The American Heart Association recommends eating pasta as an entrée rather than as an appetizer. They also suggest avoiding cream sauces and full fat cheeses, which means saying no to fettuccine Alfredo and choosing pasta with marinara sauce instead.

Pasta Pointers

Pasta can be satisfying, but don’t overdo your portions.  The USDA says most adults should eat about six ounces of grains, whole grains in particular, every day. A cup of cooked pasta is about two ounces of grains.

If your pasta meal is large, either share it with a friend at the restaurant or split it, eating half now and saving the rest for a meal another day.