What Happens in Your Body When You Eat Pasta?
I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered, but I did – and I searched for answers.
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Everything started when I found a 2011 survey by Oxfam which showed that pasta is the most popular dish in the world. Furthermore, this study found that 59% of U.S. adults eat pasta at least once a week. After all, it is cheap, tasty, and easy to cook, right?
But still, why has the fascination with pasta gone so far? I mean, rice is equally accessible and you can cook it in countless ways too. I’ve decided to dig a little deeper and learn from experts in the field what happens to our bodies when we eat pasta, both the good and the bad parts.
Let’s have a look at some of the most interesting facts about pasta:
Fact #1: You’ll get a boost of energy.
Lindsey Kane, DR, director of nutrition at Sun Basket, says that complex carbs are our most important source of energy. If you’ve ever heard of athletes eating huge meals rich in carbohydrates before a big race, now you know why.
As soon as carbs enter your digestive system, they’re broken down into glucose. Your body uses glucose to produce a particular fuel molecule known as ATP. Then, cells all over your body are using this molecule as fuel to power every task you have to perform throughout the day.
Can you guess which food offers plenty of healthy carbs? Pasta.
Fact #2: You might have a better mood.
Complex carbohydrates can improve the production of serotonin, also known as the hormone of love or happiness. Aside from improving your mood, serotonin can also strengthen your bones and promote the healing process by reducing inflammation.
Don’t have the time to cook a complex dish? This ready pasta is free from genetically modified ingredients (GMO) and preservatives. The best part? You can have it ready in just 60 seconds by microwaving it.
Fact #3: You’ll get extra vitamins and minerals.
Your taste buds aren’t the only happy ones every time you eat pasta.
According to Kane, this dish provides you with plenty of copper and iron. These nutrients are essential for healthy blood cell production and oxygen transportation. Meanwhile, the selenium and manganese found in pasta are known for lowering the risk of chronic disease and reducing inflammation.
Note that you can only reap these benefits by eating whole-wheat pasta.
Andreas Ayesta, MS, RD, founder of Vive Nutrition, explains that the wheat crops used for producing flour used in pasta are minimally processed. As a result, the final product is still enriched by the powerful nutrients of wheat kernels (vitamins, minerals and fiber).
Fact #4: You might suffer from indigestion.
By now, I think it’s pretty clear that pasta can provide plenty of health benefits if you choose the right option. However, too much of anything can do more harm than good and that goes for pasta as well.
After every meal, your body sends in more blood to your stomach to aid in the digestion process. When there’s an unusually large quantity of food in there, your body may not be able to digest it properly. This leads to unpleasant symptoms like bloating, pain or indigestion.
In order to avoid such symptoms, Kane offers the following advice:
“You can avoid this uncomfortable feeling by embracing intuitive eating principles like honoring your internal hunger and satiety cues (try noticing how hungry you are in the beginning of your meal and check-in with yourself throughout your meal) and practicing gentle nutrition (enjoy your pasta with plentiful vegetables, protein, and healthy fats). If you eat too much, and are feeling blah, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are human! Let this simply be a learning experience, and view the next meal as an opportunity to strengthen your connection to internal biological cues.”
Fact #5: You WILL feel full.
If you do manage to eat just how much your body needs at that moment, then congratulations! However, even small quantities of pasta can be very filling, especially when it comes to the whole-wheat one.
Whole wheats are very rich in healthy fiber which is slowly digested by your digestive system. White pasta, on the other hand, is made using refined white flours which are much faster digested by your body. Due to this fact, you may also be likely to overeat white pasta and might end up with one or more of the unpleasant symptoms mentioned above.
Once again, eating pasta is all about moderation. In order to maximize its nutritional benefits, it’s also ideal to choose different sauces and toppings with every meal you get.
What’s your favorite pasta recipe? Share your option in the comment section and we’ll get back to you with one tip to eat healthier!