The food of longevity? The pasta. The Americans say so – Italian cuisine reinvented by Gordon Ramsay

La Cucina Italiana


Americans now know that pasta is a “longevity food.” This was announced by one of the world’s leading longevity experts, the highly followed doctor Dan Buettnerwith a video on Instagram in which he showed some images shot in an Italian village starring elderly people eating fresh pasta and more. All accompanied by a very attractive caption: «Good news if you love pasta! This group of people who live in the Mediterranean area (without specifying that it is Italy, in fact, even if it is obvious for us Italians that it is, ed) eats up to a quarter of a kilo of pasta a day. Not only do these people live longer than average, but they also have an obesity rate that is 1/5 lower than average.”

Pasta: the “new” food for longevity

In the video then Dr. Dan Buettner delves deeper and explains that the pasta is a concentrate of carbohydrates but if it is combined with legumes, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, the sugars it contains are absorbed more slowly and therefore the glycemic index of the dish is lowered. He also says that, particularly when combined with legumes, pasta provides all the essential amino acids, as happens for example with meat or fish.

Because the combination of pasta and vegetables lowers the glycemic index of the dish

Given the average American’s diet, which tends to be very high in saturated fats and sugars, Dr. Buettner’s advice makes sense. To be clear: a plate of pasta is certainly better than a hamburger. Therefore knowing that it is better to combine it with vegetables and legumes rather than greasy and unhealthy sauces is useful. However, the fact that this type of combination is successful in terms of blood sugar levels is nothing new. It is a well-known trick to combine vegetables and legumes with pasta and exactly why vegetables, rich in fibre, slow down the absorption of the simple and complex carbohydrates it contains. And this serves to avoid those glycemic peaks that can lead to weight gain in a healthy person, and even serious problems for those suffering from diabetes. Indeed, also to make us feel more satisfied, nutrition experts promptly suggest adding plenty of vegetables to pair with pasta. An example? Chiara Manzi, a pioneering nutritionist in Italy for studies on longevity, commenting on the diet of the oldest woman in the world, recently told us: «We should think of vegetables as an ingredient and not just as a side dish, also because they allow us to reduce the overall caloric intake of dishes, while simultaneously reducing the absorption of sugars. Last but not least, with vegetables you can enlarge the portions, and this makes you feel more satisfied.”

The Americans, Italy, the clichés

Judging by the comments, however, the American followers of the learned Buettner were stunned: evidently many did not know it. The post, in fact, collected thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, including many from Americans, children of Italian immigrants, who remember that their grandparents “they ate pasta five times a week”, and that pasta is a “religion” for us Italians. All this together with a long series of other clichés related to our way of eating and living which in their opinion would make our lives more fulfilling and longer. Some are very funny: lots of them they are convinced that here in Italy we live “in the midst of good air”. Maybe they are the same ones who have never been to Milan and don’t know the city’s pollution peaks, but that’s another matter.

The truth is that, if in some villages and villages surrounded by greenery there are still elderly people who eat healthily and exercise, here in Italy we are not exactly a model, not even in food terms: we have a very serious problem related to excess weight, with 33% of people overweight and 10% obese. Of course, a lower percentage than in the United States, where the obesity rate among adults is 35%, but that’s it.

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