Mediterranean diet = pasta plus. True or False?

Think the Mediterranean diet means buckets of pasta? Think again. On a recent Diabetes WA supermarket tour, our group were examining the nutrition panel on pasta.

We were noticing the serving size estimated by the manufacturers was around 60 to 75g of carbohydrate. Compare this to the carbohydrate in one slice of bread, which is 15 to 20g. These higher levels of carbohydrates go some way to explaining why people may have higher blood glucose levels after a rice or pasta meal.

cereal products activity - whole meal pasta (2)

One of our participants noticed that the serving sizes much smaller on one of the imported Italian pastas. This particular pasta estimated a serving size of just 40g, considerably less that the Australian pastas which estimate 60 to 75g.

Smaller servings of pasta are the norm in Italy and other Mediterranean countries – the proof is in the labels!

We have drawn up a comparison of the different products.

Australian pasta (per serve) Italian pasta (per serve)
Serve size on packet, uncooked 100g 55g
Carbohydrate 72g 40g
Estimate cooked amount 2 cups 1 cup

Of course this doesn’t mean you need to buy the imported pasta, just eat less of the Australian varieties. What else can you do to eat like an Italian? Follow these steps to a truly Mediterranean diet:

  • Use olive oil as the main added fat (aim for around 60 mls /day).
  • Eat vegetables with every meal (include 100g leafy greens, 100g tomatoes and 200g other vegetables every day).
  • Include at least two legume meals per week.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish per week and include oily fish, such as salmon or trout.
  • Eat smaller portions of meat and less often.
  • Eat fresh fruit every day and dried fruit, seeds and nuts as snacks or dessert.
  • Consume wine in moderation (one standard drink a day, which is about 100mls) and only enjoy it with a meal. Try and have a couple of alcohol free days a week;

The health benefits of choosing an eating pattern similar to the Mediterranean diet are numerous.

Not only can this diet reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes1, the diet can also help to improve glycaemic control and cardiovascular risk in people who already have diabetes2.

If you want to book into one of our supermarket tours call us on 1300 136 588.

Bec header

Bec is a Credentialled Diabetes Educator at Diabetes WA.

References

  1. Sofi F, Cesari F, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ 337:a1344,2008. (Electronically published; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.a1344)
  2. Esposito K, Maiorino MI, Ceriello A, Giugliano D: Prevention and control of type 2 diabetes by Mediterranean diet: a systematic review. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 89:97–102, 2010.
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