Pasta is a forbidden food on many low-carb diets due to its high starch content. Not only do starches cause weight gain; as they digest, they also cause spikes in blood sugar. Choosing the type of pasta and what toppings to add can actually help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar. Anti-obesity advocate Jamie Oliver recommends adding balsamic vinegar to all pasta dishes to make them healthier and less likely to contribute to weight gain. Adding balsamic vinegar to a pasta dish doesn’t lower its sugar content, rather helps to modify how your body metabolizes the sugars.
Balsamic vinegar originated in Italy and is made much like wine, by pressing grapes to release their juices — followed by an extended period of fermentation. The fermentation process may continue for years to arrive at the sought-after flavor profile. Adding balsamic vinegar to pasta infuses tons of flavor and healthy antioxidants, according to a 2010 study reported by the Journal of Food Biochemistry. Vinegar acts as a natural appetite suppressant, improving the metabolism by stimulating the production of natural enzymes.
The glycemic index rates various foods indicating how any specific food item will affect your blood sugar levels — and whether that food would be helpful or harmful with regards to causing sudden spikes in blood sugar. The lower a food’s number on the index, the less effect it has on the blood sugar. Conversely, higher glycemic index numbers indicate possibly problematic foods whose effects may spike your blood sugar.
Balsamic and other vinegars are all low in calories and are low on the glycemic scale. For comparison, the glycemic index for most types of pasta range between 45 to 55, which places them in the moderate levels on the index. When balsamic vinegar is mixed into a pasta dish, the antiglycemic attributes help reduce the effects that starchy pasta has on your blood sugar by controlling the glucose response, according to a 2006 study reported in the The Medscape Journal of Medicine. This has tremendous implications for diabetics and others with pre-diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
The Medscape Journal explains further how the acetic acid in balsamic vinegar slows the absorption of glucose from the pasta, preventing spikes in blood sugar, and helping to control hunger. Adding two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to a starchy pasta meal reduces blood sugar surges after your meal by 20 percent. Other types of vinegar have similar effects.
Making healthy pasta includes using balsamic vinegar and fresh, [organic] vegetables instead of other pasta sauces, recommends Oliver. Roast or stew tomatoes with garlic, onions or leeks, carrots and spices and toss with the vinegar for a delicious, low fat pasta sauce. Choose organic, whole grain pasta whose glycemic index is lower than the stripped down, white flour pastas. If you’re gluten sensitive, choose a pasta made from gluten-free grain, like rice. Add a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to finish off a tasty dish.
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