When it comes to pasta and nutrition, there can be a lot of conflicting messages. Our experts separate fact from fiction and break down some of the most common misconceptions about pasta. For even more information, visit our Pasta FAQs and Pasta Nutrition pages.
Myth #1: “Eating pasta will make me gain weight”
Truth: Pasta is not fattening. In fact, a one cup serving contains less than 200 calories with only about 1 gram of fat (egg noodles are only slightly higher with less than 4 grams of fat per cup). Add in high-fiber vegetables, protein-rich lean meat or fish, a small amount of cheese and healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil and most meals can easily weigh in under 500 calories. For more ideas on how to create wholesome, balanced meals with pasta see our pasta recipes.
Myth #2: “Pasta alone has no real nutritional value”
Truth: Quite the opposite is true. Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, the body’s primary fuel for energy and is an important part of a healthy diet. It also contains several essential nutrients, including iron, folic acid and several B vitamins. Some pasta is also enriched, which means extra vitamins and minerals are added to it, to provide an extra nutritional boost.
Myth #3: “Gluten-free pasta is healthier”
Truth: For individuals who have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or an allergy to gluten, gluten-free pasta enables them to enjoy pasta as a regular part of their diet. Individuals who do not have gluten allergies derive no nutritional benefit from eating gluten-free pasta and will find that traditional enriched pastas provide good nutrient value, such as iron, folic acid and B vitamins.
Myth #4: “Pasta contains GMO Wheat”
Truth: GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are the result of the process of genetic modification -the selective or deliberate process of changing an organism’s genes – to obtain a nutritional or other trait that could not otherwise be obtained using conventional plant breeding techniques. Pasta is made from wheat. There is no genetically modified wheat or pasta commercially grown or sold in the U.S or Canada. More information about GMO ingredients in foods can be found at GMO Answers.
Myth #5: “If I want to lose weight, I shouldn’t eat carbs, such as pasta”
Truth: Not true. Pasta is a wholesome, low sodium food that can fit right in with your weight loss plan. One cup of cooked pasta contains under 200 calories, in addition to valuable vitamins and minerals. It also fills you up so you don’t feel hungry while trying to lose weight. Pasta has a low Glycemic Index (GI) so it does not cause sugar in the blood to rise quickly. The GI measures how rapidly a carbohydrate triggers a rise in blood sugar – the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. Pasta has a GI of approximately 50 to 55, which is considered low. (A high GI would be 70 or greater). A low GI means a slower rate of digestion, which can help with appetite control. What’s more, according to the USDA, carbohydrates like pasta should provide 45% to 65% of your daily calories.