Pregnant women experience cravings for specific foods. Pasta tops the list of cravings for many moms-to-be. But is pasta safe to consume when pregnant? Does it cause any allergic reactions or digestive issues that may be risky for the baby? It all depends on what type of pasta you eat, how much and how frequently you eat. Read on to know the nutritional value, benefits and any side effects of pasta.
Can You Eat Pasta During Pregnancy?
Yes, you can eat in moderate quantities but only homemade pasta. Avoid eating ready-made pasta available in stores as it is not healthy. Also, eating anything in excess is harmful.
Which Type Of Pasta Is Good?
Pasta is a very filling and delicious food. To decide on what you should eat and what not when you are expecting, you should know about the various types available.
1. Standard Pasta:
They are made of refined wheat flour. The refinement process involves removal of the outer shell and inner germ layer, leaving just the starchy endosperm. The nutrient rich outer layer that is removed contains high amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, leaving a weaker product. Some nutrients are added back like vitamin B and iron, and thus, the name enriched flour.
[ Read: Maggi Noodles During Pregnancy ]
2. 100% Whole Grain Pasta:
It includes all the three nutritious layers – bran, germ, and endosperm of the wheat kernel. It contains fiber and micro-nutrients. It is more filling than the standard pasta and offers various health benefits. It helps lower blood pressure and lessens the risk of certain chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Whole grain pasta is grainier and chewier than the regular variety. Many more types of whole grain have come up in the last few years. Do one of these to know if pasta is made up of 100% whole grain:
- Check the list of ingredients. All flours and grains should contain ‘whole’. Oat and brown rice are whole grains.
- Check the pack in the front. Pick only the one that shows 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat.
- Chose the packs which have an orange whole grain stamp.
- De Cecco 100% whole wheat pasta
- Mueller’s 100% whole wheat pasta
- Eden Organic 100% whole wheat pasta
- Hodgson Mill 100% whole wheat pasta
- Heartland 100% whole wheat pasta
- Eden Organic 100% whole grain Rye Spirals
- Eden Organic 100% whole grain Kamut & Quinoa Twisted Pair
- Hodgson Mill gluten-free brown rice pasta
[ Read: Egg During Pregnancy ]
3. Whole Wheat And White Blend:
These kinds of pasta are a combination of refined and whole wheat flour. They are less chewy and grained compared to 100% whole grain types, but provide more nutrition than the regular white pasta. They are perfect during the transition period while shifting from the traditional variety to whole wheat.
- Barilla whole grain pasta
- Ronzoni Healthy Harvest whole wheat blend pasta
4. Unique And Interesting Blends:
These kinds of pasta blend in a variety of healthy ingredients for extra nutrition. They could contain lentils, beans and flaxseeds. They taste more like traditional pasta than whole grain pasta, so it is the best choice if you do not like brown pasta.
- Heartland Plus
- Barilla Plus
Health Benefits Of Pasta For Pregnant Women:
1. Sustain Energy Levels:
Pasta is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates as a slow release of energy is helpful in sustaining the levels.
2. Prevents Gestational Diabetes:
Pasta has low glycemic index. Therefore, it regulates your blood sugar levels, helping you to avoid gestational diabetes.
[ Read: Fast Food During Pregnancy ]
3. Safe From Hypertension:
The low sodium content in pasta will not affect blood pressure levels, and thus, there is no need to worry about high blood pressure.
4. Prevents Hemorrhoids And Constipation:
Wheat pastas contain high fiber and are a good source to prevent hemorrhoids and constipation during pregnancy.
5. Fights Anemia:
Pasta contains rich iron, which helps to combat anemia in pregnant women.
6. Fetus Development:
Pastas are an excellent source of vitamin B that is helpful in developing the fetus.
[ Read: Sausage During Pregnancy ]
7. Prevents Neural Tube Defects:
Pastas also contain abundant folic acids that help to prevent neural tube defects in babies.
8. Reduces Risk Of Infections:
The high vitamin A content in pasta helps to maintain the integrity of mucous membranes, therefore, lessening the risk of any infections during pregnancy.
Risks Of Pasta During Pregnancy:
Even though pasta is an excellent way to satiate your hunger pangs during the months of pregnancy, it is not good to have it frequently. Eating too much pasta can cause complications.
- The phytates present in pasta block the absorption of magnesium and zinc. The lectins in them allow the unhealthy food to pass into the blood. So, eating too much of pasta is not advisable.
- Pasta stimulates the growth of yeast and is harmful in the stomach, so you need to avoid its regular intake. A healthy way to eat pasta is by having it with veggie side dishes.
- Gluten is high in pasta. If you are intolerant to gluten, you should avoid eating.
- There are high chances for you to gain weight when you take pasta in large amounts. Eat in moderation and do not go overboard.
- If you have celiac disease, you may have to avoid eating pasta.
How You Can Handle Pasta Cravings:
You should handle them in a healthy way.
- Overconsumption of salty and sugary foods can cause weight gain and other health issues. If you have these cravings, you should know how to satisfy yourself in a nutritious way.
- For instance, in place of a large serving of Alfredo smothered white pasta, you can have a small plate of whole wheat pasta seasoned with a low sodium tomato ketchup. It is a healthier alternative to satisfy your cravings without the addition of excess sugars and calories. Seek a doctor’s help if the cravings are unmanageable.
- If you choose to eat pasta in a restaurant, ensure that it does not contain allergens or food, such as shellfish based sauces and preservatives that are to be avoided during pregnancy.
We hope that this article answers all your queries on eating pasta during pregnancy. If you have something more to add, we would love to hear from you.
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