The Benefits of Pasta And Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Use this exclusive guide by guest writer Ana of Italian Food Today, we explore Mediterranean diet recipes, the health benefits of pasta and more.
When you mention the name Italy in conversation it is nearly impossible not to think about the glories of its cuisine. After all, the country is basically synonymous with the idea of great food, especially delicious pasta dishes. Even as I write this, visions of wonderful Mediterranean pasta recipes are dancing around my head.
In recent years however, pasta seems to have engendered a bit of a negative rap owing to the popularity of the ‘No Carb diet’ bandwagon that so many have jumped on. I aim to dispel some of the major diet myths surrounding this food and show why, particularly when balanced correctly in a Mediterranean diet, it can easily be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
The history of pasta's origins are a little controversial. Many of us grew up believing the story of how Marco Polo introduced it to his fellow American countrymen upon returning from his journeys to the Far East. But while his accomplishments are the stuff of legend, bringing back pasta to his native land was not actually one of them.
In actuality, it was already being used in several regions throughout Italy in his day. There is strong evidence suggesting that as far back as the 1st century AD a noodle called ‘lagane’ was commonly prepared by the Romans utilizing the same kind of durum wheat that is used for modern pasta variations.
It is precisely because most authentic pasta is made from ‘semolina’ flour, which comes from durum wheat, that it can be considered a “good carb”, unlike its nutritionally challenged cousin, white flour, which is produced by grinding common wheat.
Some of the advantages that semolina wheat enjoy are abundant levels of B vitamins, iron and niacin. It is also free of cholesterol and has very low sodium levels. When you add these attributes to the incredible health benefits of a Mediterranean diet you essentially have a delicious and nutritious powerhouse combination.
It’s all about the ingredients
Foods in Italy make use of an abundant variety of different fruits, vegetables, breads, nuts, seeds and of course, pasta! This diet is also characterized by the generous use of olive oil, which adds an extra level of beneficial dietary properties in and of itself.
Oh, and let's not forget the wine, which medical studies have revealed to contain several important benefits.
Other food groups such as cheese and yogurt, red meat, poultry and eggs are used more sparingly, but when they are incorporated in recipes they tend to be prepared in such a way that highlights the dish as a whole. This is one of the best aspects of Mediterranean cooking.
Through its clever use of proper pasta selection (the variations are vast indeed), combined with the modest use of richer proteins and fats and heavier use of produce items, this diet manages to do two seemingly contradictory things simultaneously – it adds vitality to the body without sacrificing incredible flavor.
This truly is a miracle diet in many aspects and will probably continue to gain in popularity after the recent recognition as Human Heritage from Unesco.
Wishing you buon appetito!
Ana Maria da Costa Vasconcellos
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