If you ask people around the world to name their top 10 favorite foods, you can expect a majority of those lists to contain spaghetti. Spaghetti is an easy to prepare meal, doesn’t cost a lot, tastes great and can be eaten with some easy ingredients. Spaghetti gets a reputation in the food community, however, for being an unhealthy food. Most people associate it with being high in carbohydrates and something that should be reserved for athletes that need a boost before competing.
While there are carbohydrates in spaghetti, there are plenty of things to like about this popular dish. As long as you’re eating the recommended amount of spaghetti, there’s a short list of side effects and a long list of benefits. To show you that spaghetti is actually good for you, let’s take a look at the nutritional value and proven health benefits you get from spaghetti.
Nutrition of Spaghetti
If you’re looking for the healthiest type of spaghetti, make sure to grab the kind that’s enriched with no salt added. This will give you the maximum amount of nutrition, with around 220 calories per one cup serving. That makes for a great part of a balanced meal (especially with healthy tomato sauce). In that serving, you get nearly 20 percent of your daily recommendation for protein, as well as 10 percent of your suggested fiber intake.
In the vitamin department, spaghetti certainly isn’t lacking with more than a quarter of your daily need of both thiamin and folate. Spaghetti is also abundant in riboflavin and niacin with more than 10 percent, while adding small amounts of vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. As for the minerals, spaghetti delivers more than half of your daily selenium needs and a quarter of your manganese. Right around the 10 percent mark, you’ll find iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, with smaller amounts of calcium, ,potassium and zinc. There’s very little fat in spaghetti, and no cholesterol at all.
Since we mentioned it earlier, one of the first things that comes to mind with spaghetti is the “carbo-load” that athletes do before an event, eating a lot of pasta like spaghetti. While carbohydrates certainly play a part in adding energy to people that need it, there are other aspects of spaghetti that make it a great energy booster. There’s also plenty of protein in spaghetti, which helps your muscles recover and build strength to give you a natural boost.
Spaghetti is one of those foods that contains a high amount of thiamin (vitamin B1) that can be difficult to find in other foods. Thiamin has been shown to boost your energy production as it helps your body oxidize sugar, releasing energy into the body. When you eat too much, you might experience a “crash,” but eating the right amount of spaghetti gives you a great energy boost throughout the day.
One of the other key components found in spaghetti is fiber, with 10 percent of your daily needs. Making spaghetti part of your high fiber diet is instrumental to digestive health. While some types of spaghetti contains glutens that some people can’t have, there are plenty that don’t, and will do more good than harm. Adding fiber creates probiotics that eliminate the harmful bacteria in your digestive system, getting rid of problems such as constipation and cramps.
You’ve probably also noticed that spaghetti is one of those foods that makes you feel full after eating it in a meal. With the addition of fiber, you’re more likely to increase your metabolism and burn more calories. Since you’ll have more energy, some have said that a small amount of spaghetti is actually a great weight loss tool. Lastly, you’ll even reduce your chances of colon cancer, as fiber and folate combine to promote colon health.
As we pointed out, the most abundant nutrient that you can find in spaghetti is selenium, with more than half of your daily recommendation in each enriched serving. Selenium doesn’t get talked about as much as vitamin A or vitamin C when it comes to boosting your immunity, but it’s just as important. Research has found that selenium is packed with antioxidants that can fight off free radicals, reducing your chances of cancer.
Selenium also helps your immune system overall, increasing the effectiveness of the other vitamins you’re getting in your diet while promoting the growth of helpful white blood cells. Overall, several different studies have shown that getting enough selenium increases your longevity, prevents chronic diseases and even helps your thyroid function more properly to help boost weight control.
Another great thing that selenium does is help your heart health by fighting inflammation, allowing blood to flow more freely. Thiamin is also a key component of the heart’s function, as it helps nerves and muscles communicate to allow your heart to function more properly. Even those that have had heart failure and have been given thiamin improved their function within just one week.
Once again, folate comes into play as it’s also beneficial for heart health. Folate allows your body to metabolize homocysteine, reducing your chances of heart attack and stroke. People that get the recommended amount of folate in their diet have been shown to have lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Throwing all of those facts together, you can call enriched spaghetti great for your heart.
One more thing that folate does for your body is increase your neurological health. Studies show that people who get enough folate drastically reduce their chances of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia. You can even improve your overall mood by eating spaghetti thanks to the range of vitamins and minerals, making your neurotransmitters stronger. Plus, spaghetti is one of those “comfort” meals that people typically eat because it makes them feel good, further improving mood. Eating in small amounts can even help you fall asleep and stay asleep on a nightly basis.
Summing it Up
Spaghetti, just like any pasta and most foods, is best enjoyed in moderation. Though it has a wide range of nutrition, spaghetti eaten by itself can get quite boring. With that said, many people add a lot of ingredients such as butter that adds calories quickly. Eating one serving of spaghetti with a healthy tomato sauce is the best way to deliver all of the nutrients you need as part of a great balanced meal.
Calories aren’t the only reason you’ll want to watch your spaghetti intake. Because there is a high amount of carbohydrates, eating too much can affect your blood sugar levels. There might also be gluten in the pasta, which many people have found themselves to be intolerant to. These days, though, there are plenty of gluten free spaghetti brands that you can buy. For the most part, though, spaghetti gets a bid of a bad reputation as being “unhealthy,” but hopefully this has shown you there’s nothing to be afraid of, and that spaghetti can make a great part of any diet!