Pasta – The Food of Athletes

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Pasta has been a part of the athletes’ diet for some time now. Athletic trainers believe in its highly nutritive qualities and it is their recommended diet

Dietary principles are similar: it is a balance of simple and complex carbohydrates, proteins, and non-saturated (and some saturated) fats. The extensive use of olive oil in pasta dishes is common, and as a mono-saturated fat is healthier than saturated fats, it allegedly helps lower cholesterol levels.

Enjoy pasta with a simple sauce with fresh tomatoes, or white wine, or a shellfish sauce or ragu meat sauce. Avoid Alfredo sauce (which is not known in Italy) and cream and butter based pastas. In Italy, cream-based pasta has been out of style since the 1980s.

Time release energy

Pasta is high in complex carbohydrates, which provide a ‘time release’ of energy rather than a quick boost. Most athletes include complex carbohydrates in their diet to save up the energy in their body. The carbohydrates become glucose stored in the muscles. The glucose energy is then released when needed during long, tiring exercise like golf, long-distance running or biking.

Nuritionists recommend we eat six to 11 servings of complex carbohydrates daily. Consuming pasta a minimum of three times a week is an easy way to help meet that goal. A typical serving of cooked spaghetti will probably provide two or three of your recommended servings of complex carbohydrates.

Folic acid

Pasta is fortified with folic acid (the synthetic form of naturally occurring folate). Folic acid, also known as folate and folacin, plays an important role in the body’s central nervous system. A 2 ounce serving of dry pasta will supply the equivalent of about 100 micrograms a day of folic acid or 25% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).

Health benefits

Pasta has always been a top nutrition ‘player’ in our diets. The health benefits of folic acid are important throughout our lives. In a woman’s childbearing years, folic acid is a key nutrient before conception, because it helps prevent some birth defects. Furthermore, new evidence suggests that folic acid may protect against heart disease and some types of cancer.

Make Your Own

I just bought a lovely pink KitchenAid mixer from Mayer and not many people know that there is a pasta or noodle making element to it. Simply attach it and custom make your own fresh, healthy pasta.

Recipe:

Homemade Pasta Noodles

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain flour (you can use wholemeal)

2 tablespoons water (adjust if necessary)

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the slightly beaten egg, and mix. Mixture should form a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons water.

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. With the KitchenAid pasta element roll dough out to desired thinness. Use machine or knife to cut into strips of desired width.