Winter 2016

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Pick Your Pasta Wisely

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Linda Van HornIf you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t have to skip the pasta. But watch out for the portion and avoid the refined, white flour varieties, says Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine. In fact, whole grain pastas provide a source of dietary fiber, an important, underconsumed dietary component that helps to improve digestive health, control blood sugar levels and blood cholesterol levels and achieve a healthy weight.

The use of refined white flour became popular more than 100 years ago “simply because products made with it looked prettier and less ‘peasant like’ than products made with the whole grain versions,” she says. The result? Most Americans today do not consume even half of the recommended amount of daily fiber (28 to 30 grams per day). When choosing pasta, breads or other grain-based foods, Van Horn urges consumers to check the label for the “whole grain” ingredient and for fiber content. “The opportunities are plentiful,” she says. Whole grain varieties have spilled into “almost every type of pasta that exists on the shelf.”