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Pasta, the key ingredient of a sustainable diet

The famous chef Massimo Bottura explains why pasta is so healthy

Pasta, the key ingredient of a sustainable diet

Claudia Astarita

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Is pasta good or bad for your health? Is it going to make you fat or it should be always included in sustainable diets? At a time in which we are reading so many things about pasta, the Italian chef Massimo Bottura, the three Michelin starred chef of Osteria Franescana in Modena, steps up in the discussion to clarify why Italian pasta nutritional and healthy properties.

During an interview with the English daily The Guardian, Bottura said he "is teaming up with food experts to hail a sensibly-sized portion of pasta as a sustainable and healthy meal". He does not want to sound nostalgic, but he just thinks that paleo and gluten-free diets are not necessarily better than pasta-based diets.

The point is that grains-based diets are not only more healthy but also more sustainable than protein-based ones, especially if pasta processing involves alternative grains such as quinoa.

What Bottura is saying may easily become controversial in Italy as well, where these "alternative" kinds of pasta are not available. However, the renowned chef is convinced that the best ingredients for a healthy lifestyle are olive oil, fresh herbs, seasonal fruit and vegetables and, of course, pasta.

Actually, according to The Guardian many researches have recently confirmed that pasta "is not fattening if the portion size is correct and the sauce not too high in calories". Or, using Bottura's words, "you gain weight if you eat like 200 grams of pasta with carbonara [made with eggs and bacon] and after that you take a nap, because the style of life today is not like 100 years ago. If you mix vegetables and a plate of pasta and a little fruit, and the right amount, it is totally enough."

According to several scholars, a good mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat is essential for a healthy diet. Beyond that, it seems that very low carbohydrate diets may not be safe, especially in the long term. Pasta may help solve most of people's problems, and "innovative pasta" such as the one Bottura is sponsoring could be even better. Probably new recipes and good flavors may help in convincing people about pasta's qualities.

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