What's Better For You, Bread Or Pasta?

Ideally, both pasta and bread can be healthy and good for you. In real life, however, it is not always like that. Especially if you mainly rely on pre-packaged, and restaurant foods, and don't cook it yourself. Restaurant pasta is not a healthy food by any means, and I don't blame them for that. The health benefits of most food cannot be measured immediately, but the taste can. Therefore, since all businesses chase profits, restaurants emphasise on taste, not health. The same goes for bakeries. That's not to say that prepared food cannot be tasty and healthy at the same time, but it does seem hard for most people to figure out how to do it. The advice below is meant to help you with choosing healthy bread and pasta.

Bread and pasta

Bread and pasta

1. Buy or make 100% Organic Whole Wheat bread, made without chemicals and products containing GMO. It is hard to say what products contain GMO, since it is not labelled in North America, but it is safe to assume that canola oil, corn oil, soya oil are from GMO crops. Usually big brand companies try to cater for health-conscious customers with bread that makes some health claims on the package, but that is only until you read the ingredient list. I usually find that those brands are not much better than plain sponge bread. They add to it wheat gluten, which kind of defeats the purpose.

2. Anything cooked with fluoridated municipal water is not healthy in my book. I buy bread that is made with spring water. If the label only lists "filtered water", although this is nice, you can bet that the fluoride hasn't been removed. The same goes for pasta. If you want healthy pasta, start by boiling it in distilled water or reverse-osmosis filtered water.

3.The bigger problem with pasta is what goes in the sauce. As usual, the problem is also an opportunity. You can make something truly healthy if you only use healthy products, such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onion, peppers, organic tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomato, fresh basil and all the other Mediterranean products. Avoid using cream, bacon, canned tomato sauce, spice mixes that contain msg, and other processed products.

4. If you bake your own bread, you can make it healthier by adding to your recipe some milled organic flax seed, wheat germ and/or organic hemp flour. Substitute any table salt with rock salt, or at least with sea salt. Click here, for my article about salts.

5. You can, also, improve the health benefits of other bread products, such as muffins and banana bread, by incorporating flax seed, wheat germ and hemp flour into your recipes.

6. One of the problems with bread is the same as with pasta, and it is what you put on it. But if you go through all the troubles to find a healthy bread, I don't think that you would be putting processed foods on it.

7. Bread labelled as "made with whole wheat flour", "omega-3 flax seed", "multigrain" etc.,is not necessarily healthy for you. In fact, most of the time it is only slightly better than white sponge bread, if that. Always read the ingredient list, not only the health claims on the front of the package. If a bread lists seventeen ingredients, don't buy it.

8. Pasta and bread are not fattening if you don't gorge on them. What can make pasta and bread fattening is a lot of unnatural ingredients and bad oils (see above). It is useless to count the calories of expertly prepared pasta and bread, but for those who enjoy indulging in this activity, they probably have other things to worry about.

Finally, if I had to choose a side on what's better, pasta or bread, I'd say pasta, because I have been an Italian chef for many years and can make a healthier pasta than most people can make a healthy bread.

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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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