Pasta: Good or Bad?

Thankfully, the low-carb diet craze is on its way out, but during the anti-starch explosion, pasta took a severe beating. But pasta is GOOD! Here's why…

Thankfully, the low-carb diet craze is on its way out, but during the anti-starch explosion, pasta took a severe beating. But pasta is GOOD! Here’s why…

The Nutrition Facts

One cup of cooked spaghetti has approximately 220 calories, 1 gram of fat and no cholesterol. Most pastas on the market are enriched with iron too. Whole grain pastas contain about the same calories as regular pasta but have more protein, fiber and vitamins. As an added bonus, all that protein and fiber means that you'll feel more satisfied by eating less.

Your choices don’t stop at whole wheat; other whole grain pastas include brown rice (my personal fave), corn and soba. Barilla also makes the tasty Barilla Plus, which has fiber, protein and added omega-3 fats (Toby’s kids are huge fans).

The reason that low-carb promoters bashed pasta is actually the main reason it’s so good for you! Pasta is great source of carbohydrate, the body’s primary source of energy (your brain runs on carbs and carbs alone –- that’s pretty important, no?).

So instead of looking at pasta as the enemy, embrace it as a vital energy source. The trick is making pasta part of a varied diet (read on).

Serve It Up!

Portion control is most important. Eating huge portions of pasta smothered with cheese or a heavy cream sauce expands waistlines. Keep portions to 1 to 1 1/2 cups per person and add vegetables and lean meats, beans or fish to balance out the meal.

Just about every cuisine on the planet has traditional pasta dishes. Enjoy wheat pasta with tomato and olives or a light cream sauce. Try rice noodles wrapped with veggies, or lo mein noodles (made from wheat flour) with an Asian-inspired sauce. I love to stir fry vegetables with some soy sauce, add cooked brown rice spaghetti, Srirahca chili sauce and a heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter. Toss to combine and melt the peanut butter and you have a fabulous dinner in minutes.

The Bottom Line:

As with everything, enjoy pasta in moderation -- be mindful of portion sizes and experiment with all the glorious varieties.

    Recipes to try

Photo by G & A Scholiers

Next Up

Is Mayonnaise Good for You?

The famously fatty condiment can still be part of healthy diet.

Energy Drinks: Good or Bad?

Here's everything you need to know before you crack open an energy drink.

Is Ginger Good for You?

Learn why this favorite warming spice may be a friend to your body as well as your taste buds.

How to Freeze Baked Goods

Extend the life of breads, bagels and cakes with a few simple tips.

Is Pasta Healthy?

Why you can (and should!) embrace pasta as part of a healthful diet, according to a dietitian.

Is Peanut Butter Good for You?

Find out whether or not you should... go nuts.

Is Coconut Oil Good For You?

Many praise this high-fat oil as a healthy choice, but is coconut oil really a healthy option for cooking?

Is Liquid I.V. Good for You?

A nutritionist weighs in to help you determine whether the self-proclaimed "hydration multiplier" is right for you.

Scary Good Things to Watch This Month

Check out the exciting Halloween shows and special episodes premiering on Food Network in September.

How to Make Pasta

A step-by-step guide with photos.