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Making pasta diabetes-friendly
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Making pasta diabetes-friendly

The addition of fiber-rich and protein-packed ingredients to pasta makes it healthier for those with diabetes, say experts

How to make pasta for people with diabetes?

It is often speculated whether people with diabetes can indulge in a dish like pasta. Such was the concern of Delhi-based Khusbhoo Bhasin, a foodie and an ardent pasta lover, who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which eventually led to Type 2 diabetes. While she switched to a diabetes-friendly diet plan that helped her manage her sugar levels, she wanted to look for a healthy way to give in to her pasta cravings occasionally. That’s when her dietitian shared some healthy and diabetes-friendly pasta recipes with her.

“I was relieved to find a way to relish pasta again by turning the otherwise cheesy and creamy preparation into a healthy yet delectable one,” explains the 30-year-old software professional.

According to Dr Mahesh D M, consultant – endocrinology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore, people who have diabetes can certainly incorporate diabetes-friendly pasta into their diet, but it is important to practice moderation and make mindful choices. Moreover, healthy food choices start with choosing the right pasta. “The amount consumed, and the accompanying ingredients can have an impact on blood sugar levels,” he explains.

How to make your pasta low-carb

According to Delhi-based dietitian Avni Kaul, to prepare a healthier pasta dish that does not spike sugar levels, you should opt for whole grain or legume-based pasta as they have a lower glycemic index. She also suggests balancing the carb content in pasta by adding a variety of colorful vegetables to it. “This will provide fiber and essential nutrients while slowing down the absorption of sugars,” shares Kaul. 

Dr Mahesh explains that to prepare low-carb pasta, lean protein sources such as grilled chicken or fish are recommended. Further, it’s best to use olive oil instead of creamy sauces. Additionally, Kaul suggests elevating the dish’s nutritional profile by incorporating other lean proteins like shrimp or tofu into the pasta. “Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels and promotes satiety,” she explains.

Another trick to keep the pasta tangy and flavorful, yet, diabetes-friendly, is by choosing tomato-based sauces with minimal added sugars.  “You can make your own tomato pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs,” suggests Kaul. One should avoid using market-bought sauces or preparing creamy sauces high in fat and sugars.

Further, Dr Mahesh reminds that it is crucial to keep an eye on portion sizes and carbohydrate intake to manage blood sugar levels. 

Low-carb pasta options

Like bread or rotis made with complex carbs, pasta made with complex carbs releases sugars gradually. Dr Mahesh suggests considering millet-based pasta (pearl millet pasta, quinoa pasta, etc.), whole-grain pasta, or those made of alternative flours like almond, coconut, or chickpea flour. “These alternatives generally contain more fiber and nutrients compared to traditional refined-flour pasta,” he explains.

According to Kaul, legume-based pasta made from ingredients such as chickpeas or lentils is also a great option. This is because it combines complex carbohydrates with protein. “These choices offer a lower glycemic index alternative that is also nutrient-rich for individuals managing diabetes,” explains Kaul.

What pastas are to be avoided?

Dr Mahesh says people with diabetes should avoid pasta made from ingredients like white rice, refined wheat flour or potatoes, as these can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. 

Non-dough vegetable pasta

Kaul says sometimes instead of ready-made pasta, people can use vegetables like zucchini or spaghetti squash and turn them into pasta-like noodles or spaghetti. This would make for a great gluten-free pasta-like dish without any dough. “You can season and garnish these just like pasta,” she adds. This makes for a healthier low-carb pasta option that’s beneficial for those with diabetes.

Healthy cooking methods

When preparing pasta, choose cooking methods such as steaming, sautéing, or baking the ingredients with pasta instead of frying.

“This helps retain nutrients without adding excess unhealthy fats,” explains Kaul.

Diabetes-friendly pasta recipe

Takeaways

  • People with diabetes can include pasta in their diet by choosing low GI varieties — multigrain, millet or legume-based ones.
  • Pastas can be made diabetes-friendly by adding fiber-rich vegetables and lean proteins to the preparation.
  • Instead of ready-made or creamy sauces, it is best to use homemade sauces and a drizzle of olive oil and herbs to season it.

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