Is It Safe To Consume Pasta During Pregnancy?

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Many women crave pasta during pregnancy but are worried about its safety. Generally, moderate amounts of pasta can be consumed safely during pregnancy if made at home. However, if you decide to eat pasta, you should pay attention to its quality. For example, it is better to choose healthier varieties, such as wholewheat pasta.

Eating pasta in small quantities may offer certain benefits. For example, it provides energy, helps prevent constipation, and helps fight anemia. However, if eaten in excess, it may lead to insufficient absorption of nutrients or increase the risk of infections.

Read this post to learn if pasta is safe for pregnant women, its nutritional value, side effects, and some good brands to try.

Can You Eat Pasta During Pregnancy?

Homemade pasta can be eaten during pregnancy

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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.

2. 100% Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta is a healthy choice during pregnancy

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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.
  • Choose the packs that have an orange whole grain stamp.

Recommended brands

Although we don’t favor any brands and would always suggest you pick the brand of your choice and trust, here is the list of brands we have personally tried.

  • 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

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.

Recommended brands

  • 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.

Recommended brands

  • Heartland Plus
  • Barilla Plus

What Are The Health Benefits Of Pasta For Pregnant Women?

1. Sustain Energy Levels

Pasta helps keep energy levels high during pregnancy

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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 a low glycemic index. Therefore, it regulates your blood sugar levels, helping you to avoid gestational diabetes.

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.

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.

What Are The Risks Of Pasta Consumption 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 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.
Have pasta with veggies and protein on the side

Image: iStock

  • 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.

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.
  • If you are gluten intolerant, then you can choose to have quinoa pasta or rice pasta. We suggest reading the labels before you pick your choice.
Expecting mothers intolerant to gluten can have rice pasta

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pasta good during the first trimester?

Following a healthy diet pattern from the beginning of your pregnancy is essential. Nevertheless, you may include pasta (preferably fiber-rich and whole-grain varieties) in your first-trimester diet (1).

2. What should I eat when I crave pasta?

Suppose you want to eat healthy variations of pasta. In that case, you may incorporate whole-wheat varieties and a balance of healthy fat, vegetables, and lean protein to reap the health benefits and keep yourself energetic and fuller for longer during pregnancy (2).

3. What does a craving for pasta mean?

Studies have shown that most pregnant women may crave carb-rich foods (such as pasta) when they feel low on energy or due to other hormonal or dietary changes (3). However, if you find yourself craving too much of an unhealthy food variety, you must consult a dietician to determine the most appropriate and healthy diet plan for you.

Many women experience an increased craving for consuming junk food during pregnancy. Pasta is a favorite of many pregnant women, but they may often wonder if it is safe to consume pasta during pregnancy. You can safely consume whole grain pasta in moderate amounts under your nutritionists’ guidance. Pasta can help you feel full for longer and may also have some health benefits for the developing fetus. However, anything in excess is not good, and you must eat pasta also in moderation. Try making your pasta healthier by adding veggies to them.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Pregnancy and diet.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-diet
  2. How To Stop Your Cravings for Carbs.
    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-stop-carb-cravings/
  3. A. J. Hill et al., (2016); Nutritional and clinical associations of food cravings in pregnancy.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054961/#!po=37.5000
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Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She did her graduation in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). She has been into health and...
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Shivani Sikri

(Public health and Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics)
Shivani Sikri is the chief nutritionist and co-founder of Nutri4Verve. After completing her Masters, Shivani Sikri did a postgraduate in nutrition and health education, a postgraduate diploma in public health and nutrition (PGDPHN), and a postgraduate diploma in nutrition and clinical dietetics. She has also completed her certification in Nutrigenomics from the US.   Shivani recommends a well-balanced, holistic lifestyle...
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