The health food world has officially come full circle. Until a few decades ago, people ate things like butter, egg yolks and pasta a couple times a week and thought nothing of it. They would never have dreamed these foods could lead to major heart diseases and obesity. Your grandmother probably still looks at you like you’re crazy when you tell her you’re now dairy-free, gluten-free and off sugar for good. But with a growing health-conscious society in the 80s, more and more common foods were declared strictly off-limits.
Fat became the big bad word of our times and any food that had a trace of it was immediately tabooed. Our collective understanding of what constituted a ‘healthy meal’, changed drastically over time as well. While 50s America would probably think of hearty, home-cooked fare as being the most nutritious, the complete opposite was believed to be healthy in the new millennium. We moved away almost completely from our traditional food and
Spaghetti was almost every tired parent’s fallback option when they came home, too exhausted to cook a meal for their children. We grew up eating (and loving) pasta in all its wonderful forms. There were the endless streams of spaghetti, beautiful tricolor pasta and whimsical farfalle. Elbow macaroni almost became a symbol of American-ness, immortalized forever in countless mac ‘n’ cheese recipes. But somewhere along the way, the health industry caught on to pasta as well and included it to their forbidden foods list. Pasta was made of refined flour and anything with the word ‘refined’ was pure nutritional evil. Refined flour had no health benefits, raised your blood sugar levels and made you put on weight. If you
But now new studies have begun to question what we accepted as gospel truth for so long. Egg yolks were the first to be exonerated. The cholesterol within them was found to be good cholesterol and actually reduced your body’s cholesterol levels. Fats were next. Not all fats were bad and it was trans fats who were the real bad guys. Fats found in fish, avocado, olive oil and even butter were not too bad for you at all. In fact, eaten in moderation, they could actually help you become healthier and lose weight. Now studies are beginning to tell us what we hoped they would tell us a long time back. That pasta wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be and that we could eat it without having a major guilt trip later.
One of the studies, published in the Nutrition and Diabetes journal did just that. It told us that moderate consumption of pasta could help you lose abdominal fat and lead you to a healthier BMI. The study followed the food consumption patterns and health reports of 23,000 Italians- one group of people who would never give up pasta no matter how much it might be maligned. What they found was that eating pasta in moderation led to healthy weight loss and those individuals typically had a perfect BMI. However, those subjects who ate pasta in excess were seen to be more overweight than the rest, showing that pasta wasn’t something you could eat in huge quantities and face no negative effects from. Their study concluded that pasta in itself was not an unhealthy food and there was no reason for people to shun it. Like all foods, as long as it’s eaten in moderation, it could actually have a healthy impact.
Pasta can also help you eat healthier by acting as a delicious carrier for all the vegetables you should be eating. Cheesy, creamy pastas should be a rare indulgence, but light, vegetable-heavy pasta dishes can be eaten a few times a week with no negative effects. Always choose red sauce over white as this could give you added health benefits. Not only does red sauce come with far fewer calories, but tomato sauce is one of the healthiest ways to eat tomatoes. The antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes is at its bioavailable best when it comes in the form of cooked and pureed sauces. So pick a great pasta dish for dinner and don’t beat yourself up for it later. Pasta could be the most delicious component you add to your new healthy diet.