With the 2015 London Marathon taking place on Sunday, the runners will now be ‘carbing up’ on pasta prior to and on the morning of the big day. Indeed, the London Marathon organisers hold pasta parties on the weekend of the race.
Does that mean that pasta must be so good for us and a great provider of energy?
The answer is yes and no.
White Refined Pasta
The pasta that is generally sold and eaten is made from white refined durum wheat semolina, which is mixed with water, made into shapes, and then dried. Sometimes pasta may contain optional ingredients such as eggs or vegetables.
Unfortunately any white refined carbohydrate such as pasta, rice, bread and sugar contain a lot of empty and unsatisfying calories.
This means that eating refined white pasta does not give your body the nutrients it needs. Additionally, white refined pasta does not satisfy you for long and actually leads to more carbohydrate cravings and overeating.
Refined pasta and indeed any refined carbohydrates are likely to lead to weight gain and therefore more likely to be overweight or obese, which puts you at risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and digestive issues.
Whole Wheat Pasta
The main difference between white and whole wheat pasta lies in the processing. Whole wheat contains 3 parts of the grain:
- The bran (the outer layer of the grain)
- The germ (the sprouting section of the seed)
- The endosperm (the large starch centre)
During the refining process of white pasta, the first two parts, the bran and the germ, is forced out of the grain, leaving just the third part, the endosperm behind.
Although the endosperm has a lot of nutrients, a lot are lost after the refining process due to not retaining the bran and germ.
Whole wheat pasta on the other hand, provides the most nutritional benefits including the bran and germ’s vitamin E, the major B vitamins, antioxidants, appetite represent fibre, protein and healthy fats. As it is an appetite represent you are less likely to put on weight by overeating and your energy levels will be boosted for longer.
A number of studies have shown that eating 3 x 118 ml portions of whole wheat pasta a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer and digestive issues.
Eating Whole Wheat Pasta
I find whole wheat much more flavoursome with its strong, nuttier and grainy consistency. I switched my step-children from white refined pasta to whole wheat pasta without telling them and they have not noticed a change, they simply like it!
Whole wheat pasta is readily available in all forms from major supermarkets as well as health shops. Look out for 100% Durum Wholewheat Semolina on the label ingredients.