“Pasta contains tryptophan, an amino acid that turns into serotonin, the so-called hormone of happiness,” said Mauro Defendente Febbrari, an expert in metabolic diseases. “That is why eating pasta gives you a feeling of wellbeing and pleasure.”
His remarks come before the 10th edition festival dedicated to pasta in all its varieties called I Primi d’Italia, the name a play on the dish as a first course and the best in Italy.
If pasta is the ultimate mood food, Italians must be a happy bunch: they are among the top consumers of maccheroni, tortellini and linguine on the planet. Each Italian winds up some 61 pounds (28 kilos) of spaghetti a year.
The pasta fest comes at a time when Italians irked over price hikes have staged pasta and bread strikes, leading some to speculate over whether it’s the end of the Bel Paese’s carb-fueled diet.
“Eliminating carbohydrates to eat more protein causes problems in the long run that can affect organs including the kidneys and heart,” said Giorgio Calabrese, professor of nutrition at the Cattolica University in Piacenza and member of the European Food Safety Authority. “Eating a good plate of pasta makes a fair contribution of carbohydrates and a slow secretion of insulin protecting us from obesity.”
And, they take care to point out, eating pasta does not necessarily make one pack on pounds.
“The 350 calories in 100 grams of spaghetti or other pasta with a simple dressing cannot be accused of creating weight problems, ” said dietologist Primo Vercilli. “Pasta is not fattening, that’s a common myth. “
Modern Italians are sticking by starches, but it was once thought by renegade art movement Futurism that pasta was slowing down the nation. They called for abolishing it in their cookbook.