Pasta
Pasta

History

In the 1st century BC writings of Horace, lagana (Sing.: laganum) were fine sheets of dough which were fried and were an everyday food. Writing in the 2nd century Athenaeus of Naucratis provides a recipe for lagana which he attributes to the 1st century Chrysippus of Tyana: sheets of dough made of wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavoured with spices and deep-fried in oil. An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish called lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing, a possible ancestor of modern-day lasagna. However, the method of cooking these sheets of dough does not correspond to our modern definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product, which only had similar basic ingredients and perhaps the shape. The first concrete information concerning pasta products in Italy dates from the 13th or 14th century.

According to historians like Charles Perry, the Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the 5th century, the first written record of dry pasta. The dried pasta introduced was being produced in great quantities in Palermo at that time.

In North Africa, a food similar to pasta, known as couscous, has been eaten for centuries. However, it lacks the distinguishing malleable nature of pasta, couscous being more akin to droplets of dough. At first, dry pasta was a luxury item in Italy because of high labor costs; durum wheat semolina had to be kneaded for a long time.

There is a legend of Marco Polo importing pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting the use of pasta in the United States. Marco Polo describes a food similar to "lagana" in his Travels.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, dried pasta became popular for its easy storage. This allowed people to store dried pasta in ships when exploring the New World. A century later, pasta was present around the globe during the voyages of discovery. The invention of the first tomato sauces dates back from the late 18th century: the first written record of pasta with tomato sauce can be found in the 1790 cookbook L'Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. Before tomato sauce was introduced, pasta was eaten dry with the fingers; the liquid sauce demanded the use of a fork.

 

Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily. It is also commonly used to refer to the variety of pasta dishes. Typically pasta is made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked and served in any number of dishes. It can be made with flour from other cereals or grains, and eggs may be used instead of water. Pastas may be divided into two broad categories, dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). Chicken eggs frequently dominate as the source of the liquid component in fresh pasta.[citation needed]

Most dried pasta is commercially produced via an extrusion process. Fresh pasta was traditionally produced by hand, sometimes with the aid of simple machines, but today many varieties of fresh pasta are also commercially produced by large scale machines, and the products are widely available in supermarkets.

Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes and varieties, with 310 specific forms known variably by over 1300 names having been recently documented. In Italy the names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary with locale.

As a category in Italian cuisine, both dried and fresh pastas are classically used in one of three kinds of prepared dishes. As pasta asciutta (or pastasciutta) cooked pasta is plated and served with a complementary sauce or condiment. A second classification of pasta dishes is pasta in brodo in which the pasta is part of a soup-type dish. A third category is pasta al forno in which the pasta incorporated into a dish that is subsequently baked.

Nutrition

Pasta, especially whole wheat pasta, is known to have several health benefits. Whole wheat contains considerable amounts of minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and manganese.Minerals are important for the body because they help with the structure of bones, regulate heart beat, maintain muscle, and take part in regulating cell growth.

Pasta contains complex carbohydrates, which release energy slowly compared to sugar, providing energy for a longer time. Pasta also contains a small amount of sodium, and has no cholesterol. Assorted pastas are rich in essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B. Another benefit of eating pasta is that it provides niacin (Vitamin B3). This vitamin is essential for bodily functions such as converting carbohydrates into glucose, which produces energy for the body. Enriched pasta also contains folic acid, which is beneficial for child-bearing women. Folic acid is needed for the proper growth of cells and development of the embryo. Pasta may not contribute to obesity, as weight gain is often caused by excess calories in a diet, rather than its carbohydrate content.

The amount of protein in pasta depends on the type of flour used to manufacture it. If it is made from durum wheat, the pasta contains protein and gluten. Pasta is considered to be a good source of nutrition for vegetarians because it contains protein comprising six of the nine essential amino acids.

The Mediterranean diet is a health approach in which the goal is to prevent illness and diseases. This diet is composed mainly of a number of plant foods such as pasta. Other foods include olive oil, dairy products, eggs, red meats, and small amounts of fish and poultry.

 

Why Pasta Is Healthy: Scientists Explain in Plain Language 

Pasta may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

A study from the Annals of Oncology reported that high glycemic index foods may increase the risk of breast cancer, while the intake of pasta, a low glycemic index food, seemed to have no influence. 

Pasta may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In 2008, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that a low GI diet filled with low GI foods, like pasta, may be preferred for the dietary management of type 2 diabetes. 

In 2002, Finnish researchers found that consumption of pasta-based carbohydrates and rye bread can lower the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. 

Alzheimer’s and the Mediterranean diet.

Researchers concluded that following a Mediterranean diet, in which pasta is one of the cornerstone foods, may reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers also found that following the Mediterranean diet may increase lifespan in those who do develop Alzheimer’s disease. 

Pasta meals with tomato-based sauces may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, acts to repair damaged cells in the body. This positive e!ect of lycopene this is thought to help prevent prostate cancer since prostate cancer risk is lower in men who frequently eat tomato products.

Pasta Fits Into A Weight Loss and Management Program

 

http://www.internationalpasta.org/resources/extra/3Healthy.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasta

 

 

 

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