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"Super pasta" with health benefits?

Is pasta really good for our health? Browsing through the internet this seems to be a controversial subject. A proper Italian would never question the healthy qualities of the national food, but when it comes to diabetes or obesity things seem to get more complicated.

Apparently, it is possible to improve the delicious favourite Italian meal.

The university of Adelaide researchers are working with colleagues in Italy to produce a better quality pasta able to add an extra nutritional value to our diet.

Super pasta! Here it comes!

Two research projects - conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University's Waite Campus - will start next month in collaboration with researchers from the Italian universities of Bari and Molise with the aim to improve the nutritional qualities of pasta.

The super pasta will contain a range of potential health benefits for the consumer, such as reducing the risk of heart disease or colorectal cancer. 

The new projects will investigate key aspects of the cell walls in durum wheat, which is commonly used for making pasta.

The plan of the ARC Centre of Excellence is to look at the fundamental role of cell walls (biomass) in plants and discover how they can be better utilised.

The first project, in conjunction with the University of Bari, will investigate how the growth of durum wheat affects the levels of starch and dietary fibre within it, and how the fibre levels in pasta can be improved.

The second project, in conjunction with the University of Molise, will investigate the important roles played by two major components of dietary fibre - arabinoxylans and beta-glucans - in the quality of pasta and bread dough.

The aim of the projects is not only to improve the quality of the product but also to carve a niche by supplying domestic markets with specialised pasta products in Italy and in Australia.

Both of these projects have received funding and support from the South Australian Government, local governments in Italy, the University of Adelaide and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.
So, getting back to the question on the healthy qualities of pasta, in the meanwhile scientists will discover the super pasta, I think that following our common sense, i.e. a small quantity, proportionate to the type of life style (sedentary, sporty) we have, within a varied diet, could easily sort out the dilemma for us.

Giulia Lombardo

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