Why Undercooked Pasta is Better For You

Pasta gets a lot of loveacross the world, but also an unfair share of bad press. Maligned as an unhealthy fattening dish, pasta is actually good for you if cooked the right way.

Experts say you should cook pasta al dente (firm to the bite), like the Italians do, to reap its health benefits.

When pasta is firm, the digestive enzymes in the gut take longer to break down the starch into sugars, so they are released more slowly into the bloodstream. This keeps you feeling full for longer, making it easier to control weight.

If it is overcooked, the Glycemic Index of pasta increases, so the starch is more readily broken down into sugars.

Not sure why Glycemic Index(GI) matters? The reason is simple: GI indicates how fast glucose, a sugar from carbohydrates, is absorbed into the bloodstream. GI runs from zero to 100, and foods with a higher index number tend to spike the blood with sugar. This can be dangerous, because blood sugar taxes the organs–in particular, the pancreas, and can lead to diabetes and obesity.

Experts count pasta among foods with a healthy Glycemic Index. Take a glance at theInternational Glycemic Index database, based in the Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular Bioscience, at the University of Sydney. It states that “pastas of any shape and size have a fairly low GI (30 to 60). Asian noodles such as hokkein, udon and rice vermicelli also have low to intermediate GI values.”

Compare the GI of pasta with other foods:

White bread: about 75
Mashed potatoes: about 80
Cornflakes: 80

So how do youcook pasta al dente? Although most manufacturers specify a cooking time on the packet, you should start testing about 2-3 minutes before the indicated cooking time is up.

Here, a note of caution: While al dente pasta is a low GI choice, eating too much can still spike your blood glucose levels.

The ideal amount? One cup of al dente pasta combined with plenty of mixed vegetables and herbs.

Healthy Italian Pasta Salad
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Baked Pasta

Image credit: notahipster via Flickr


Cindy S
Cindy Smith6 months ago


Angela Malafouris

I do not like al dente pasta, I prefer it over-boiled. But being on a diet I have to eat it al dente so I just skip pasta and I am good...

Mostapha Zaher
Mostapha Z3 years ago

Having have lived in Italy, I could not agree more.
LOL@Brenda P - Simply brilliant!

Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago


Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo3 years ago

Al dente is how I always cook it but I rinse it in boiling water before mixing with hot sauce and heat both together for a few minutes before serving with the obligatory Parmesan ...

Barb Hansen
Ba H3 years ago


laura Frey
laura Frey3 years ago

Great info

Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

I don't eat pasta. I replace it with green beans.

Brenda P.
Brenda P3 years ago

That's the way I like it. Uh-huh