The Italian  Secret To Weight Control and Longevity

I have travelled myself to Rome, Milan, Portofino, Venice, Florence, Taormina and Lucca…in fact, I have been to Italy at least 10 times- and one thing that amazes me is this – ” How can I eat so much pasta and pizza and always come back home thinner than when I arrived?”

Was it because I did so much more walking? Was it because I was always on the go sightseeing and visiting all the historical sites?

The answer is NO!

It is a conumdrum- The Italians themselves indulge in wine and pasta daily yet maintain such amazing physiques…

What I discovered will blow your mind…I uncovered some truths that have been hidden from us in North America…truths about the the fundamental differences between Italian pasta and North American pasta that I am going to reveal today!

And when you read this blog, I am sure you are going to be convinced that the main cause of obesity in North America is not what you think it is.

The Differences Between Italian Pasta and North American Pasta Are Many-  Ingredients, Production Methods, and Culinary Traditions:

Ingredients

  • Italian Pasta: Usually made from 100% durum wheat semolina or ancient wheat varieties such as Einkorn, Emmer plus water. This pasta  provides a higher protein content and a firmer texture. Italian pasta also avoids additives and preservatives, focusing on simplicity and high-quality ingredients
  • North American Pasta: May incorporate various flours, including all-purpose or enriched varieties, which can result in a softer texture. It often includes additives such as niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid to enhance nutritional value and shelf life
  • Gluten Content: Traditional Italian wheat varieties have a significantly lower gluten content. For example, some traditional varieties have a gluten content as low as 0.9%, compared to modern varieties that can have up to 14% gluten.

Production Methods

  • Italian Pasta: The production process is very traditional and takes longer to prepare. The dough is kneaded, rolled, and shaped and usually air-dried slowly ( sometimes taking up to 50 hours).  This helps the pasta to retain its texture and flavor.
  • North American Pasta: Emphasizes convenience and mass production. The drying process is much faster and uses forced air in large-scale commercial facilities that  affects the texture and taste of the pasta.

Culinary Traditions

  • Italian Pasta: Italian pasta is typically cooked al dente that makes it firmer to bite into…thus assisting  in slower digestion and better satiety
  • North American Pasta: Often cooked longer so the pasta is softer and then served with  heavier and richer sauces that leads to high calorie and fat intake…thereby making it easier to gain weight

Nutritional Quality

  • Italian Pasta: Healthier due to  higher quality ingredients and traditional cooking methods. It is  lower in additives and preservatives so it is much more natural. By using durum wheat semolina, it  provides a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • North American Pasta: Pasta contains  various additives and uses different flours that impact its nutritional profile. Plus the quicker drying production process and potential overcooking can also diminish its health benefits.

Why is Gluten so Bad?

Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

Gluten is  the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It has long been recognized that people who suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) have a difficult time tolerating  high amounts of gluten because they can trigger an autoimmune response that leads to  damage in the small intestine and poor absorption of nutrients. Those people can suffer with  symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and headaches.

Gluten and Gut Health

People who have not diagnosed with gluten intolerances can still suffer from intestinal inflammation, leaky gut, and gut bacteria imbalances. This can play a role in  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)

Modern Wheat Varieties

Many modern wheat varieties have been bred to contain higher gluten levels.  It serves to increase elasticity and how much the baked goods can rise. The problem is that altered gluten structure may be much more difficult for the human body to break down potentially leading to digestive issues and inflammation.

How Modern Day Processing Plays a Role In Nutrient Loss

Commercial pasta production uses highly refined wheat flour that is stripped of  nutrient-rich bran and germ portions of the grain. This can result in higher amounts of gluten and lower amounts of  fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds .

Higher gluten pasta may contribute to digestive problems, inflammation, and other health issues for some individuals By choosing whole grain or sprouted grain pasta, more nutrients and fiber can be provided.

In summary, Italian pasta is celebrated for its simplicity and high-quality ingredients. Traditional preparation methods that involves a slower drying process contributes to its nutritional benefits and superior taste. North American pasta is enriched with additional nutrients plus  includes more additives and preservatives so it can be mass produced. This leads to differences in  texture and health benefits.

Insiders Health Tip: 7 Healthier Pasta Choices

Whole-Wheat Pasta

Whole-wheat pasta is made from the entire grain. ie  bran, endosperm, and germ. It  is higher in fiber that helps with digestion and keeping you feeling full longer. Compared to white pasta, it contains more vitamins and minerals.

Chickpea Pasta

This gluten free pasta is made from chickpea flour and water. It is high in protein and fiber (12 grams of protein per cup). It contains other essential nutrients-  folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Legume-Based Pastas

Gluten free and made  from various beans and lentils like black beans, red lentils, and yellow peas. They are high in protein and fiber. One cup of chickpea-lentil pasta has up to 13 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. It also provides these essential nutrients like iron and zinc.

Soba Noodles

Guten free Soba noodles are made from buckwheat. They are high in fiber and contains B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Soba noodles is also lower in calories compared to traditional pasta. Thus it may lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 

Vegetable Noodles

Vegetable noodles like zucchini are made from spiralized vegetables that are very low in calories and carbohydrates and high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, and B vitamins. you not only can  increase your vegetable intake but also reduce calorie consumption.

Quinoa Pasta

Quinoa pasta is gluten free and often mixed with other flours like corn or brown rice to boost texture. It is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.…plus it is high in fiber and various vitamins and minerals. However, the mixing with other flours can reduce its protein and fiber content.

Brown Rice Noodles

Brown rice flour is gluten-free and high in fiber, magnesium, and potassium compared to white rice noodles.

References:

https://www.bar-enza.com/news-item/the-essential-ingredients-of-italian-cooking-exploring-the-7-staples/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/european_countries_lower_obesity_rates

https://www.creativeedgetravel.com/post/how-italians-eat-so-many-carbs

https://burratahouse.com/blogs/health-wellness/how-italians-eat-pizza-and-pasta-daily-and-remain-thin

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7885314/healthy-noodles-you-should-be-eating-according-to-a-dietitian/

Are Noodles Healthy? Which is Best from a Dietitian

https://www.consumerreports.org/food/groceries/all-about-pasta-alternatives-a1024352250/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-best-pastas

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827935/

https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/the-great-carbohydrate-debate-italy-vs-usa.html

https://www.mashed.com/1334057/starchy-difference-between-dried-pasta-italy-america/

https://burratahouse.com/blogs/burrata-cheese-blog/italian-pasta-vs-american-pasta

https://marcelliformaggi.com/blog/italian-gluten-free-pasta-everything-you-need-to-know/

https://papavince.com/blogs/news/is-gluten-different-in-italy

https://www.delaheart.com/blogs/food/the-differences-between-american-european-wheat-gluten

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant

https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-gluten

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-is-gluten-and-what-does-it-do

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538505/

 

Gluten: A Benefit or Harm to the Body?

Could Gluten be Causing Your Health Problems?

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-gluten-bad

Healthy Organic Pasta: The Real Story Behind Gluten Intolerance

‘I get a gluten reaction from U.S. Wheat but not in Europe’

What Is The Healthiest Type of Pasta?

 

7 Ingredients that can spell Italian: Common Ingredients in Italian Cuisine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019547/

 

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