For years, pasta has gotten a bad rap as being a food that makes you fat. But is this really true? Italian people eat tons of pasta every year - and how many overweight Italians have you seen? The answer is probably not very many. So what is the truth behind this concept? Does pasta really make you fat? Is it the pasta or the sauce? Pasta is almost entirely from carbohydrates. Like protein, carbohydrates contain four calories per gram. To put that in perspective, fat contains nine calories per gram, and alcohol seven calories per gram. Foods that contain carbohydrates are actually some of the "lower calorie" items available. In addition, pasta is typically prepared in a very healthy way - it's boiled in water. Even the addition of salt is typically so minor that it really can't make a huge impact on the "healthiness" of the pasta. Unless your watching your sodium to (I do with my high blood pressure). Let's face it... it's the pasta sauce that most likely makes you fat. Let's consider one popular type of pasta sauce: Alfredo sauce. Alfredo sauce is practically a heart attack in a bite. (unless you make the Alfredo I posted on my recipes) It's made with milk, cream and cheese, all of which contain large amounts of saturated fat. Alfredo sauce typically contains a large amount of sodium, which is also extremely detrimental to your health. Sodium can lead to damage of the arteries, damaging the heart and leading to chronic disease states, and it also makes you retain water, leaving you feeling fat and bloated. Aside from these health risks, milk, cream and cheese are loaded with fat and calories. Think about it - one ounce of cheese contains 100 calories, and in a serving of Alfredo sauce you are probably getting at least four ounces of cheese. That's 400 calories in just the sauce alone! While marinara sauce, which is typically composed of tomatoes, garlic, basil and other seasonings is a bit healthier, it still contains tons of added salt. The Verdict So, is this fact or fiction? Does pasta make you fat? That question is tricky to answer. Pasta in and of itself is really not that much of a devil in weight gain. Rather, it is the huge portions of pasta that we are served, along with the amount of (and ingredients in) the sauce that typically leads to the weight gain associated with eating pasta. If you are a pasta junkie but are trying to lose weight, don't fret. Consider preparing pasta at home, where you can control both the portion size, brand, and the amount and type of sauce that are served. Remember, moderation in everything will be effective in your weight loss goals!
Vicki will be writing on here periodically so stay tuned!