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For many, Italian cuisine can be summed up with two words: pasta & pizza. Carb-heavy, covered in cheese, these two culinary delights are probably the last thing on your mind when you’re searching for healthy options.
The world of Italian food however is much more diverse than meets the eye. Embracing the best of a Mediterranean diet, Italian food in its diverse array has some wonderful health benefits.
So in case you need another reason to visit an Italian restaurant or buy Italian food and cook it yourself, here are six valid reasons why eating Italian food can be healthy.
1. Italian Food Is Focused on Fresh Ingredients
Real Italian cooking, like the cooking of Italian grandmothers everywhere, relies on the freshest, often local, ingredients. Eating fresh, not frozen vegetables, seafood, and pasta is healthier because there are fewer processed ingredients.
Take pasta, for example. Fresh pasta is made from flour, egg, and water. That's it! No hydrogenated oils, excess fat, or chemicals you can't pronounce.
2. Eating Italian Food Can Double Your Vegetable Intake for the Day
If you are someone that struggles to get enough vegetables in your diet, Italian food might be the answer.
Eggplant Parmigiana, pasta primavera, and vegetarian pizza all feature delicious, fresh vegetables. Vegetables provide essential nutrients that help you maintain your immune system, establish a healthy weight, and lower blood pressure.
So the next time you are looking at an Italian food menu, search for those veggie-heavy options for a guilt-free meal. Add a cup of minestrone soup to your order for veggies and iron-rich beans as well!
3. Carbs Are Your Friend
Dishes like pasta and pizza are relatively high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that provides your body with energy. Dietary guidelines suggest that 45% to 65% of a person's diet should come from carbohydrates.
And while not all of that should come from simple carbohydrates like pasta or pizza, you can mix those in with whole grains for a well-rounded diet.
4. Not All Italian Food Is High in Calories
People assume that all Italian food is high in calories, but it's not! There are plenty of tasty Italian dishes low in calories too. Bruschetta, white bean soup, salad, and pasta with red sauce are all lower calorie alternatives if you are trying to maintain a healthy diet.
You can also consider ordering a smaller portion of a meal to lower the total calorie consumption. Savor every bite and focus on quality, not quantity.
5. Abundant Fiber
Grains found in bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes all contain fiber (an indigestible carbohydrate) that helps promote healthy digestion, stabilizes blood sugar, and reduces bad blood cholesterol levels.
6. Even the Wine Is Healthy
Okay, maybe wine isn't the healthiest of beverage choices, but it has been shown to help improve heart health when consumed in moderation.
A glass of red wine has antioxidants that lower your cholesterol protecting your heart and lower your risk of having a heart attack. So as long as you consume in moderation, enjoy wine with your next Italian meal!
And last but not least, let’s also consider another positive aspect about eating Italian food: the Social Benefits! Italian food is all about sharing, eating together, and celebrating friends & family. Our platters and sharing boards are a great way of bonding together to break bread. Eating like this as a group is wonderful soul food, and it helps us maintain and develop life-long relationships. What more can you ask for?