“What? I can eat that?” That’s what I said when I first checked this article out from iVillage.com. Now of course, moderation is the key, but go ahead… dive in!
Pasta is often made out to be a dietary villain by those trying to avoid carbs and gluten, but it can actually be pretty healthy, says Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, The 1:1:1 Diet. Pasta is not only high in folic acid but also naturally low in fat (unlike unhealthy reduced-fat packaged foods). And pasta’s glycemic index, or GI, (a way of measuring short-term changes in blood sugar after a meal) is only 41. That number is similar to pears, lower than many types of bread and much lower than glucose, which ranks 100, Batayneh says.
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She recommends making your pasta healthier by cooking it ‘al dente’ (to lower its GI even more) and sticking with a reasonable portion (1/2 cup, cooked, about the size of a tennis ball). Steer clear of creamy sauces. and pair it with a protein like chicken or lean ground beef to help you stay fuller, longer. And enjoy it like the Italians do — whole wheat pasta isn’t usually on their menu! While whole-wheat pasta may contain a little more fiber per serving, it usually contains the same amount of calories, so it really comes down to your taste preferences, says Batayneh. And if you’re sensitive to gluten, Batayneh suggests trying a rice or gluten-free option. Just don’t be fooled into thinking a ‘veggie’ pasta is any better for you.
While we’re not recommending you load up on butter, experts say naturally occurring saturated fats (like those found in butter, red meat and cheese) may actually be good to include in your diet in moderation (especially when compared with more processed fats like those found in margarine). “Butter made from grass-fed cows is high in conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty-acid linked to heart health and weight loss,” Batayneh says. “It also contains vitamin K2, (which boosts nervous system and cardiovascular function), as well as a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.” Batayneh recommends going organic with your butter since some non-organic dairy products can contain growth hormones and/or antibiotics.
Like butter, cheese also has a high saturated fat and calorie content, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a place in a healthy balanced diet. Nutrient-rich, calcium-packed cheese also contains vitamin A, B12, riboflavin, zinc, and phosphorus, Batayneh says. Her top picks for the healthiest kinds of cheeses? Feta, string cheese, Parmesan, Swiss and cottage. “Cheese also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a newly discovered good fat found in animal protein and dairy that has been linked to cancer prevention. Experts believe that the combination of protein and fat in cheese is so satisfying that it quashes your appetite — so full-fat cheese just may be the answer to cravings and weight maintenance.” That’s delicious news to us.
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