Pasta is often made out to be a dietary villain by those trying to avoid carbs and gluten, but it can actually be pretty healthy, says Rania Batayneh, a certified nutritionist and author of the upcoming book, The 1:1:1 Diet. Pasta is not only high in folic acid but also naturally low in fat (unlike unhealthy reduced-fat packaged foods). And pasta’s glycemic index, or GI, (a way of measuring short-term changes in blood sugar after a meal) is only 41. That number is similar to pears, lower than many types of bread and much lower than glucose, which ranks 100, Batayneh says.
She recommends making your pasta healthier by cooking it ‘al dente’ (to lower its GI even more) and sticking with a reasonable portion (1/2 cup, cooked, about the size of a tennis ball). Steer clear of creamy sauces. and pair it with a protein like chicken or lean ground beef to help you stay fuller, longer. And enjoy it like the Italians do -- whole wheat pasta isn’t usually on their menu! While whole-wheat pasta may contain a little more fiber per serving, it usually contains the same amount of calories, so it really comes down to your taste preferences, says Batayneh. And if you’re sensitive to gluten, Batayneh suggests trying a rice or gluten-free option. Just don’t be fooled into thinking a ‘veggie’ pasta is any better for you.