|Is Pasta OK, if it's al dente? Sounds legit, right? How legit does it sound, if I tell you that pasta is ok, anyway?|
I mean, aside from the fact that I have to say that the Italians are not as lean as you Americans apparently believe (31.8 % are overweight and 8.9 % are obese) it sounds legit that the hard pasta will take longer to digest. This would (or should I write "should?") reduce its GI and that in turn should help you to stay / get lean. So what?
Will having your pasta 'al dente' lead to a major reduction in glycemic load?
False. While it sounds totally logical that overcooked pasta should have higher glycemic indices and thus - assuming identical intakes - glycemic loads, a 1986 paper by Wolver et al. shows quite conclusively that this is not the case.
|Figure 1: Glycemic response 0-180min after test meals containing 66g of white bread or pasta (dry weight) in 11 non-insulin-dependent and 6 insulin-dependent diabetic patients (Wolever. 1986)|
And what about pasta with eggs? As logical as it may seem, Granfeldt, Björck, and Hagander did not observe any differences between regular and egg-enhanced pasty in their 1991 study. This is yet not the only similarity to the Wolever study: White bread easily "outperformed" all the three tested varieties of fresh roll-sheeted linguine (thick, thin, thin with egg) when it came to the postprandial glucose levels. What's new, though, is that the glucose spike was followed by a drop into the hypoglycemia zone.As useless as the "tricks" may be compared to the "American spaghetti", i.e. white bread, pasta is more or less harmless... unfortunately, the glucose surge is not the only reason spaghetti, macaroni and star pastina end up on your hips pretty easily, which is why I'd still suggest you eat them in moderation (I don't suggest that for white bread - unless you actually want to gain weight, you better don't eat that at all ;-).
- Dressler, Heidi, and Chery Smith. "Food choice, eating behavior, and food liking differs between lean/normal and overweight/obese, low-income women." Appetite (2013).
- Wolever TM, Jenkins DJ, Kalmusky J, Giordano C, Giudici S, Jenkins AL, Thompson LU, Wong GS, Josse RG. Glycemic response to pasta: effect of surface area, degree of cooking, and protein enrichment. Diabetes Care. 1986 Jul-Aug;9(4):401-4.