What are macronutrients and is pasta healthy?Mar 10, 2021
March 10th is the day the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Registered
Dietician Nutritionist Day. This is a day to acknowledge the nation’s food and nutrition experts, registered dietitians, and nutritionists that are committed to improving the health of their patients, clients, and communities.
As a certified nutritionist I wanted to take this time to discuss the nutrition on one of my favorite brands, and one of my patient and client’s favorite brands, Explore Cuisine. Explore Cuisine is a pasta company, that makes gluten-free pasta from organic non-GMO ingredients including lentils, beans, and brown rice. As a nutritionist, of course, we get so excited about brands like this because it allows us to eat our favorite foods, like pasta, but in a much healthier way! It’s also literally changed the lives of so many of my patients, clients, and readers. It’s more than just a pasta brand, it’s a lifestyle, one that says we can live an amazing, fulfilling life, we can explore new delicious foods that are also nutritionist, we can eat pasta without health consequences such as bloating. IBS, celiac, candida, acne and more. These are health issues that researchers and scientists will say don’t mix well with wheat or gluten.
The power of nutrition is EVERYTHING, we literally create our body with the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the thoughts we think. You can eat yourself to health. I discovered Explore Cuisine in September 2016 and it quickly filled up my pantry and I am still enjoying it 5 years later because it makes my body so happy, and the macros just make sense.
I share more about macronutrients and the Explore Cuisine products HERE.
Macros are macronutrients that are a group of nutrients found in food that give us energy. The three macronutrients are; Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. No matter what training plan, lifestyle, or diet you have, all three are essential in our diets for a healthy, happy life. A nutritionist is always looking out for these things. Firstly I look for how natural is it, what process did it go through to get from nature into my hands right now? We want our food to be as minimally processed as possible.
The three macronutrients:
The very origin of the word — from the Greek protos, meaning “first” — reflects protein’s top-shelf status in human nutrition. Explore Cuisine is higher in protein than regular wheat pasta, across the board, and some of their pastas have 25 grams of protein per serving! The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. Daniel Pendick An executive editor wrote on the Harvard Medical School website, “In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.” To determine your daily protein intake, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36, For example, a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary
(doesn’t exercise) that translates into 53 grams of protein a day.
There is a lot to be said about carbohydrates, some people are afraid of them and avoid them. Carbohydrates are used as fuel in our body. The key is to eat wholesome carbohydrates, like what Explore Cuisine is made of. The term “net carbs” simply refers to carbs that are absorbed by the body. To calculate the net carbs in whole foods, subtract the fiber from the total number of carbs. For example in the edamame spirulina spaghetti, there are 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 14g of dietary fiber, so 6 grams of net carbs total, which is a very low carb count, for pasta, this is great! Net carbs only Include carbs that the body can fully digest into glucose, this is why people on a ketogenic diet only count net carbs. Most ketogenic diet guidelines recommend you stay between 15 - 30g of net carbohydrates per day, so yes you can eat this pasta on keto diet and is in fact recommended.
You may also have heard of complex carbs vs simple carbs or refined carbs. Simple carbs, also known as simple sugar or refined carbs, are found in processed
foods like cakes, cookies, breakfast cereal, pizza, and pastries. They should be avoided as much as possible, for the rest of your life. Refined carbohydrates are made from wheat, which is fine in a balanced, healthy diet for some people; however, most processed carbs are made from low-quality wheat that has been genetically modified and grown in poor soil, saturated with pesticides, and then mixed with refined sugars to make a “food” like a cake or a bagel. The bottom line is that neurotoxic refined carbs include most sugars, trans fats, and processed grains.
Refined carbs may give you an initial surge of energy, but this can be followed by an
insulin rush, which rapidly drops blood sugar levels, ultimately leaving you feeling
lethargic. Substantial fluctuations in blood sugar can cause an immediate anxiety
response in the body.
For example, a study was done with a 15-year-old female who presented concerns of generalized anxiety disorder and hypoglycemia symptoms. Her diet consisted primarily of refined carbohydrates. Protein, fat, and fiber were then added to her diet, a step that resulted in a substantial decrease in her symptoms of anxiety. A brief return to her previous diet caused a return of her anxiety, followed by another improvement when she restarted the prescribed diet. 50 (StudyfromAnxietybook).
No need to be afraid of all carbohydrates, though; there are good and bad carbs. It’s easiest to remember that good carbohydrates come from nature in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Bad carbs come from human-made foods like bread, cakes, cookies, and muffins. The good carbohydrates are the ones found in Explore Cuisine pasta made from beans, lentils, and brown rice.
Another helpful thing to remember is the principle of simple carbs versus complex
carbs. Simple carbohydrates are found in foods such as milk, milk products, pasta, sugar, white bread, and some fruits and vegetables. They are also found in processed and refined sugars like table sugar, syrup, and soft drinks. Not all simple carbohydrates are bad, however. Fruits and vegetables may contain simple carbohydrates, but because they contain dietary fiber and are rich in micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, may be considered healthful. If you need a quick sugar rush, it’s better for you to get it from an apple than candy, which doesn’t have those similar nutrients. Complex carbs last longer in the body than simple carbs because they have more substantial molecules. They are called complex because they are made up of chains of three or more sugar molecules. Simple carbs by contrast contain only one or two sugar molecules. Beans, peas, whole grains (for instance, quinoa and rice), and vegetables are made up of complex carbohydrates.
Both simple and complex carbohydrates are turned to glucose (blood sugar) in the
body and are used as energy. Complex carbs are high in fiber and take longer for your body to process, so they’re more filling. Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly to be used as energy. (This is why the body gets a quick sugar rush when you eat candy.) Eating simple carbs can cause major swings in blood sugar levels and contribute to impulse eating, binge eating, and overeating. They are also high on the glycemic index, providing short-term fullness. Complex carbs, in comparison, are a long-term fuel source. Uma Naidoo, M.D., a nutritional psychiatrist and contributor to the Harvard Health Blog, explains how complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and, therefore, help maintain a more even blood sugar level, which creates a calmer feeling. She says: “A diet
rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits is a healthier option than eating a lot of simple carbohydrates found in processed foods. When you eat is also important. Don’t skip meals. Doing so may result in drops in blood sugar that cause you to feel jittery, which may worsen underlying anxiety.” 51 (study from Anxiety-Free book)
we need good healthy fats for our brain. My latest book has 26 pages
of endnotes alone, references to scientific studies from pub med and other reputable sources on this subject of brain health and the importance of good healthy fats. Explore Cuisine products aren’t high in fat, but the fats that are in the products are the good healthy fats we need.
Although fiber is not a macronutrient, I feel as though not enough people touch on fiber. Fiber is also something I consider when making meal plans for my patients and clients. Let's talk about fiber...getting enough good quality fiber is important for your health. For one, it can reduce constipation and help with
weight loss and maintenance. It may also lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease. This is because some types of fiber are prebiotic, meaning they promote healthy gut bacteria. Fiber is mostly in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. The best whole-food sources of fermentable fibers are beans and legumes. A 1-cup serving often provides up to half of the recommended daily intake of fiber. There are uncomfortable side effects of excessive fiber when someone eats more than 70 grams (g) of fiber a day. The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests eating a variety of food fiber sources. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food.
Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15
grams a day. That is about half the recommended amount. For example, a McDonald's hamburger contains 1.4 grams of fiber and fries 3 grams.
Explore cuisine has 24 different pasta varieties! But here are the three products I would recommend as a nutritionist because of the macros, including protein.
1. Organic Edamame and Mung Bean Fettucini
This product is so delicious, the texture is divine, so if you are looking for a fettucini
replacement, you found it! It also holds well in the fridge for up to 4 days, so makes an excellent product for meal prepping. This is also really high in protein, 24 grams per serving. It’s 180 calories per serving, with 4 grams of healthy fats, 20 grams of healthy carbs, 14 grams of dietary fiber, and is high in potassium and iron providing 40% of the recommended daily amount for both, in just one serving. There is also 120mg of calcium per serving which is 10% of the daily recommendations. This is so tasty it really doesn’t need anything added, maybe just some garlic salt, but also goes so well with my cauliflower cheese sauce.
2. The Explore Cuisine Edamame Spirulina Spaghetti
This product has 24 grams per protein, this is an excellent source of pure plant-based protein. Average chickpea pasta has 14g of protein per serving and average wheat pasta is 7 grams of protein per serving. If you are going to eat spaghetti, why not also get protein from it rather than just a plate full of carbs? The dietary fiber is 14 grams per serving, compared to 8g with chickpea pasta and 3g with average wheat pasta. Net carbs are 6g vs ready for this? 24g for average chickpea pasta!
And even crazier 39g of net carbs per serving for average wheat-based pasta.
Plus, since this product has spirulina, it contains a LOT of iron, 60% of your daily requirements in fact for just this one serving of spaghetti, compared to 30% from chickpea pasta and 10% from average wheat-based pasta. Calories in this are 190, which is extremely low calories for the protein, fiber, net carbs, and iron you get. You can simply add some olive oil and sea salt to this and you have a 300 calorie meal. I love to add vegetables to this including spinach for even more protein and iron. You could also check out my cauliflower “cheese” sauce or add a pesto or even tomato sauce with this. There are 4 grams of fat in this, which is quite low, and why I recommend tossing them with some olive oil or adding another healthy fat to the spaghetti. This spaghetti keeps on giving, it has 110mg of calcium which is 8% of your daily requirements, 1290mg potassium which is 27% of your daily requirements. The sugars in this are nice and low, there are no added sugars in
this spaghetti, the sugar comes from the edamame and spirulina and is 4g per serving.
As a person who focuses on whole foods, this spaghetti is made with just 2
ingredients, organic non-GMO edamame, and organic spirulina powder.
3. Explore Cuisine Chickpea Risoni
This is the product I recommend to my clients for a grain-free rice alternative. Many
people are becoming intolerant to grains these days, especially with digestive issues. This is made with just one ingredient, organic chickpea flour! But it’s been made into the shape of rice and is an excellent replacement. This also cooks in 7-8 minutes, unlike rice that can take up to 18 minutes. There are 12 grams of protein in this vs 1.5 grams in rice. It also has 50mg of calcium vs rice which has no calcium, and 2.6mg of iron which is 15% of our daily recommended amount vs rice that has no iron. 8 grams of dietary fiber vs rice that has .2g. My recipe for risotto is actually on the back of the box woo!
And I have to mention the Red Lentil Penne is what my patients love the most and report it tastes the most like the traditional “white” pasta they grew up with, the texture and consistency are amazing! The explore cuisine brown rice gluten-free ramen is also epic and cooks in 3 minutes. It’s been a must-have staple in my kitchen, especially on cold winter days when I need something warm and comforting, but light and refreshing at the same time. I have to mention the pad thai noodles too, if you love making homemade Asian food, wow these noodles are absolutely perfect. And the fava bean pasta is very unique too!
To purchase the Explore Cuisine products I mentioned on Vitacost.com, click here.