Although several scientific studies suggest that regular consumption of pasta is recommended within a healthy and balanced diet, an article published by The Wall Street Journal on October 12, entitled “Italy loses its taste for pasta”, subsequently taken up by various newspapers, contains some misleading statements to the readers that may instead induce them to consider pasta a fattening food.
Aidepi, the association that represents and upholds the Italian pasta manufacturers, replies to The Wall Street Journal through the authoritative voice of Prof. Pietro Antonio Migliaccio nutritionist, gastroenterologist and President of the Italian Society of Food Science and Nutrition (Sisa), as well as Italian member of the International Pasta Organization (Ipo) Scientific Advisory Committee.
Pasta & diet
«Pasta is part of the Mediterranean tradition and its presence on our tables allows us to follow a healthy, proper and balanced diet», says Dr. Migliaccio. «Contrary to what many people think, pasta not only provides carbohydrates (79.1 g per 100 g), but also supplies vegetable proteins (between 11 and 13 g per 100 g, depending on its “variety”) and a small quantity of lipids (1.4 g per 100 g). Moreover, it is rich in B vitamins; contains little sodium and no cholesterol. Its energy value is 356 kcal per 100 g. Pasta is the most appreciated among the grains, which are the main source of energy in the Mediterranean diet».
«Therefore – continues Prof. Migliaccio – it is absolutely false that pasta is fattening; on the contrary, it is important to remember that overweight and obesity set in when the total food intake is greater than an individual’s energy need. Therefore, everything depends on the portions that we consume and on the lifestyle that we adopt. Eighty grams of pasta, seasoned according to the Mediterranean tradition with tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese, do not provide any more calories than a serving of meat or cheese with vegetables and bread. Complex carbohydrates provided by cereals, and therefore also by pasta, are the main source of energy for our brain, muscles, red blood cells and internal organs, providing a boost of energy that is essential for our daily activities. Without carbohydrates – I dare say without pasta – a diet is neither balanced nor complete. If we then add a small quantity of animal protein or legumes to pasta, we put together the nutritional qualities of these foods in a “single course”, a classic of the Mediterranean diet.
Finally, let’s not forget that we are talking about a food containing a fair amount of fiber that promotes our body’s bowel functions.
Therefore, in the right amount, pasta can be consumed daily in the context of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle and, thanks to its satiating properties, it is also indicated in low-calorie, and therefore slimming, diets».
The Mediterranean diet
«Unfortunately – says Gabriele Riccardi, Professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the University Federico II of Naples, interviewed by The Wall Street Journal for the article on pasta – we are forsaking the Mediterranean diet, which is universally recognized as a symbol of healthy eating that protects us». He adds: «Over the last few decades, the consumption of animal fats has been growing in Italy, while that of pasta, and more generally of cereal-based products, has decreased; in parallel, the rate of childhood obesity has increased».