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Did you know that eating white rice has pretty much the same effect on your blood sugar as eating pure sugar? It’s a scary thought… especially if you know how blood sugar spikes impact your health. They create a slippery slope into weight gain, type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammation.
That’s why so many people avoid carbs. They don’t want to go on a blood sugar roller-coaster ride, so they choose foods that promote a balanced blood sugar instead.
Does that mean you should give up all carbs too?
Not exactly. There are carbs that are better for your blood sugar. And there’s a tool you can use to identify carbs that are blood-sugar friendly and carbs that aren’t — the glycemic index.
The glycemic index is a ranking system for foods based on how much they increase your blood sugar. Foods are assigned a number that tells you how much a food raises your blood sugar compared to pure glucose. So, a food that has a glycemic index of 55 raises your blood sugar 55 percent as much as pure glucose.
Now, a lot of high-carb foods have a high glycemic index… but not all of them. In fact, there’s one high-carb, low-glycemic index food that you’ve probably been avoiding unnecessarily because you thought it was bad for your blood sugar, weight and health… pasta.
Pasta’s healthier than you thought
A new scientific review from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital shows that pasta is unfairly vilified because of it’s carb content.
Sure, pasta is high-carb, but it’s low on the glycemic index, which means it’s not bad for your blood sugar or weight… and science proves it.
St. Michael’s Hospital researchers looked at 30 randomized control trials that included close to 2,500 people. In these studies, people ate pasta in place of other carbohydrates, and they didn’t gain weight or body fat. In fact, many of them lost weight.
People in these studies ate an average of 3.3 servings of pasta per week instead of other carbs. And they lost a little over a pound in about 12 weeks.
That’s not a lot of weight loss. But every little bit counts… especially if it means you can still enjoy a delicious plate of pasta primavera.
Pass the pasta… with a few caveats
Now, there are a few things you need to remember if you want to eat pasta and stay healthy…
People in these studies ate their pasta as part of a low-glycemic index diet… which means most of the other foods they ate had a low-glycemic index.
Foods with a low-glycemic index include most fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, dairy and nuts. Pasta has a low-glycemic index too. Spaghetti, for example, has a glycemic index of about 49, and anything under 55 is considered low-glycemic.
You don’t want to go crazy with your pasta serving size either if you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy. People in the studies ate 3.3 servings of pasta per week. A serving is about a half cup of cooked pasta.
And don’t forget that study participants ate pasta instead of other high-carb foods. So, you can’t have your pasta and eat cake too.
The key to success is replacing foods with a high-glycemic index like, say, a white potato with foods that have a low-glycemic index, like pasta. You can try other carb swaps too if you want to move away from high-glycemic foods and start eating more low-glycemic foods. Start with a few of the following swaps:
- Eat brown rice instead of white rice
- Eat steel cut oatmeal instead of instant oatmeal
- Eat wheat bread instead of white bread
- Eat bran flakes instead of corn flakes
- Eat peas or leafy greens instead of corn
Along with a low-glycemic diet, these simple food swaps will keep your blood sugar stable. And a stable blood sugar will keep you looking and feeling your best. It will also help protect you from serious diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer. Pasta, anyone?
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- Study suggests pasta can be part of a healthy diet without packing on the pounds — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- A good guide to good carbs: The glycemic index — Harvard Medical School. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar — Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- Glycemic index for 60+ foods — Harvard Medical School. Retrieved April 4, 2018.