Is Pasta Worse For You Than White Bread?

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Is Pasta Worse For You Than White Bread?
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Is Pasta Worse For You Than White Bread?

Pasta has become a staple in America. With a wide variety of ways to prepare it for all dietary concerns, it’s no wonder the yummy noodle is so popular.

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Ancient Origins

Legend has it that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy in the 13th century after returning from an expedition to the Far East, but the history of pasta is even older than that! As it turns out, there is evidence that the Etruscans had been making pasta as early as 400 B.C. and the Chinese were probably eating pasta as early as 5,000 B.C.

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Health Benefits Of Al Dente

Al dente pasta is actually a bit healthier because the tougher pasta slows down the process of digestion. Cooking pasta “al dente” will ensure that your blood sugar doesn’t spike rapidly. Chew on this fact, “al dente” actually means “to the tooth” in Italian.

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Shape Matters

There are more than 600 pasta shapes made all over the world! Certain noodles work better for different dishes based on their density. Thin pastas like angel hair or delicate spaghetti taste better with lighter, thinner sauces. Thick shapes like fettuccine taste delicious with thicker, heavier sauces. Noodles that have holes or ridges like radiator or mostaccioli work perfectly with chunky sauces.

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Dried vs. Fresh

Pasta falls into two categories: dried and fresh. Dried pasta doesn’t contain eggs and can be kept for two years, while fresh pasta will last for three to five days in the refrigerator.

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Papal Standards

According to early noodle legend during the 13th century German bakers formed dough into symbolic shapes like swords, birds and stars, which were baked and eaten like bread. The Pope then created quality standards for pasta.

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Pasta For Dessert?

Spaghetti gelato is actually a famous German dessert also known as Spaghetti Eis. Vanilla gelato gives the dessert the typical look of pasta and it is topped with either “marinara” sauce, made out of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries or vodka sauce consisting of mango and strawberries.

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Popularity Of Pasta

Pasta is a very popular dish, indeed. The average person in North America eats about 15 pounds of pasta every year!

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American Pasta Consumption

1.3 million pounds of pasta were sold in grocery stores in 2000. For some perspective on that number, 1.3 million pounds of 16 ounce packages of spaghetti could circle the equator nearly nine times!

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Healthier Types Of Pastas

Pasta can be made from whole wheat, rice or spelt. There are a lot of nutritional benefits to eating pasta that isn’t made from refined flour, especially in terms of fiber content.

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Health Benefits Of Pasta

Pasta can pack a whole lot of nutrition into one cup -- and without shelling out too much cash. Read to understand the nutrition of pasta.

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Carbohydrates In Pasta

One cup of white spaghetti contains about 43 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti contains about 37 grams. The body derives its energy from carbs, so in terms of fuel, pasta is a good choice. Even though carbs have been vilified they are a necessary source of energy for the body.

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Calories In Pasta

Pasta is made up of carbohydrates, which contain four calories per gram, while fat typically has nine calories per gram. Since pasta is boiled in water, its preparation isn’t all that unhealthy. What you put on top of pasta will determine whether it is a low or high calorie dish.

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Pasta’s Glycemic Index

Examining pasta on the glycemic index makes it practically a health food! The glycemic index measures measures how quickly glucose is absorbed into the blood stream. On a scale of 0 to 100 (0 being slowly and 100 being very quickly), pasta falls between 25 and 45, which is in a similar range to fruits and veggies. White bread, another American staple, reaches an astounding high of 75.

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Fiber In Pasta

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet and one cup of whole-wheat pasta boasts over six grams of fiber, which provides 17 percent of daily fiber intake for men and 24 percent for women. White pasta doesn’t have as much fiber, roughly 3 grams per cup of elbow-shaped pasta.

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Nutrients In Pasta

Whole wheat and white pastas boast some essential nutrients like selenium, which help protect cells from molecular damage. It only takes one cup of pasta to provide approximately two-thirds of your recommended intake of selenium according to the Institute of Medicine. Pasta also contains manganese, folate, and carotenoids.

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There's no better way to celebrate this remarkable noodle then to cook up a big bowl of pasta. Read on for some delicious recipes.

Pasta With Peas, Asparagus, Butter Lettuce And Prosciutto

Wilted butter lettuce is a surprisingly delicious addition to this pasta dish. Using campanelle or medium shell pasta is key here: The pasta catches all of the little ingredients, like the sweet green peas and the salty prosciutto.

Get the recipe: Pasta with Peas, Asparagus, Butter Lettuce and Prosciutto

Mushroom Bolognese

Top Chef finalist Sarah Grueneberg created a vegetarian version of Bolognese that’s as rich and delicious as the meat version.

Get the recipe: Mushroom Bolognese

Baked Shells With Cauliflower And Taleggio

High-quality pasta makes a big difference in this decadent dish: The shells retain their beautiful texture instead of turning mushy as they bake.

Get the recipe: Baked Shells With Cauliflower and Taleggio

Pasta With Shrimp, Tomatoes And Lemon Vinaigrette

A touch of lemon vinaigrette makes this shrimp pasta light and refreshing.

Get the recipe: Pasta with Shrimp, Tomatoes and Lemon Vinaigrette

Spinach Gnocchi With Shaved Ricotta Salata

Star chef Marc Vetri makes his terrific, tender spinach gnocchi with brown butter and three types of cheese. They're more intensely flavorful than the traditional ricotta kind.

Get the recipe: Spinach Gnocchi with Shaved Ricotta Salata

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Pasta is so much more than a noodle. It's been vilified as a dangerous carb and a cause of weight gain, praised for diversity and its origins have been argued over time and time again. It is a favorite of kids, comfort food to all and found everywhere from gourmet restaurants to food trucks. The methods of preparation are endless for the versatile noodle. From pad thai to chicken noodle soup to lo mein to ravioli, is there any way or any place, for that matter, where pasta cannot be enjoyed?

The identity of pasta is certainly as complex as a carbohydrate.

Check out the slideshow above to discover if pasta is healthier than white bread and how old the noodle actually is.

More from Kitchen Daily:
How to choose the right type of pasta
12 pasta dishes under 500 calories
Make the perfect mac and cheese

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