World Pasta Day: Is eating pasta good for pregnant women? Yes, but only the right kind.
By Payal Kothari
Pasta is a hot favourite Italian dish for many of us, but eating pasta during pregnancy can have its effects on the mother and baby. It is an easy and cheap dish to cook for busy moms to be, but overdoing it can have a detrimental effect on the well-being of both.
Pasta does contain nutrients like vitamin A, B, folic acid and the most essential macronutrient, carbohydrate. Pasta also contains lectins and phytates, which leach out a few micronutrients like zinc and magnesium from the mother-to-be and indirectly from the baby in the womb.
Choosing the right pasta
The type of pasta sourced and consumed is extremely important. Instead of eating a plain flour refined pasta, sourcing high fibre pasta is a good option. Whole wheat pasta, quinoa pasta, spelt pasta, semolina pasta and even red bean pasta are now available online and at most health stores. These alternatives are high in fibre, protein and prevent obesity during pregnancy trimesters. Eating simple flour pastas raises blood sugar levels and increases weight gain. However, high fibre carbohydrates maintain blood sugar levels in the bloodstream (Gestational Diabetes) and also maintain mood swings during the nine months, something most dads-to-be would be thankful for.
Brown rice pasta is a great alternate to whole wheat for mommies who are gluten sensitive or suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It also takes care of the leaky gut syndrome, which can lead to health problems even for the baby. Complex pastas such as quinoa, spelt, etc, are rich in iron and folic acid, thus preventing anaemia and weakness during pregnancy.
How to cook pasta
Adding rich greens and a range of colourful vegetables to your pasta along with tasty herb rich sauces, with a dash of rich olive oil and cheese on top, would make the dish very healthy and satiating. Choose pesto sauce over tomato sauce; pick fresh cheese over processed cheese. Top your pasta with a few pine nuts or almonds and the entire constituency changes. A mommy-to-be is always craving delicious meals, so pasta is good go-to once in a while. Overdoing it could add to calories and digestion could get overburdened. Cravings are a part and parcel of life for a pregnant woman, and a well-tossed pasta would really make her smile and glow.
Quinoa Pasta recipe
1 cup quinoa pasta | ½ cup clean half boiled broccoli | ½ cup zucchini | ½ cup carrots | ¼ tsp garlic | ¼ tsp ginger | ½ tsp chilli flakes | 2-3 tbsp olive oil | ¼ cup parmesan cheese | Salt to taste
Boil the quinoa pasta in hot water, till it’s tender.
In a large pan, add the olive oil; once warm, add ginger, garlic and toss till brown.
Then add all the vegetables, sauté for a few minutes and toss in the quinoa pasta along with some salt and chilli flakes.
Top with cheese.
A little bit of caution is great during all three trimesters. Home-cooked food is the best option. If eating out, make sure the food is well-cooked, fresh and high in fibre and vegetables, which is good for the mommy and the munchkin.
(The writer is an integrative and functional nutritionist.)