Carbohydrates for Athletes and Active Individuals: Part I
Ancient Whole Grain Einkorn Pasta: A Perfect Carbohydrate Choice for Athletes
As an avid cyclist and runner and also a sports nutrition professional, I am constantly on the lookout for wholesome foods that are not only nutrient-rich but are also delicious. I recently “discovered” Jovial whole grain einkorn wheat pasta. I was excited to try einkorn ancient wheat pasta because of its amazing nutritional profile. I also wondered how it tastes and if it would work well in different pasta recipes. Here is what I found and why, as an athlete, you may also will want to add this ancient grain pasta to your grocery list.
Einkorn pasta is a perfect carbohydrate choice for athletes because of the nutrients it contains. It is a rich source of B vitamins, which are essential for energy which will allow you to reach your full athletic potential.
This ancient grain pasta is also high in the minerals iron and zinc. Iron is involved in energy production and is the primary component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the lungs. Without sufficient iron, you would experience fatigue, reduced work capacity and endurance, and increased muscle fatigue. So, in other words, your athletic performance would greatly suffer. This is a great reason to ensure that you consume iron-containing foods. Zinc is also essential for both your athletic performance and health because it is important for protein synthesis, immune function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. This mineral also supports normal growth and development.
Einkorn pasta is also a good source of both phosphorus and magnesium. Phosphorus plays a major role in the health of bones and teeth as well as the growth and renewal of tissues. Magnesium is involved in the maintenance of normal muscle and nerve function, maintains a steady heart rhythm, supports a healthy immune system, and is essential for strong bones. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and plays a role in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Phew, I’m tired just listing the numerous jobs that these minerals perform to enable your body to function properly!
A two-ounce serving of Einkorn pasta contains slightly more fiber and two grams more protein than whole durum wheat pasta (the regular “whole wheat” pasta). Protein is essential for athletes. It is required for the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass, the building of hormones and enzymes, maintaining a healthy immune system, and it plays a role in normal growth and development. Consuming an adequate amount of fiber is necessary for good health. It is recommended that adults consume approximately 30 grams of fiber daily. Fiber helps to keep your digestion system functioning properly and soluble fiber helps reduce or maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The protein and fiber content of einkorn pasta will enable you to feel fuller for longer and will provide your body with sustained energy – a great benefit for athletes!
Two ounces of einkorn pasta contains as much lutein as one egg. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are important for athletes because they help protect your body against harmful unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are produced when oxygen is utilized by cells to complete normal processes such as when the body converts food to energy during exercise. Pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and UV light from the sun also produce these harmful substances which can enter our bodies and cause damage. Free radicals can lead to a variety of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, lowered immune function, & neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s. The body’s ability to fight free radicals can be strengthened by consuming antioxidant-rich foods like whole grains, berries, spinach, avocadoes, & nuts.
Due to its exceptional nutritional profile, Jovial whole grain einkorn pasta is an ideal carbohydrate option for athletes. Not only is it a nutrient-rich carbohydrate that provides various vitamins and minerals that are essential for athletic performance and energy, but it has a pleasing texture and wonderful nutty flavor. Its scrumptious with either a tomato or olive oil based sauce and it adds additional flavor to cold pasta dishes. Clients of mine who have sampled einkorn pasta were pleased with both its consistency and taste – many saying that they prefer the taste over whole durum wheat pasta. Try it today and you’ll be fueling your body with a nutrient-rich carbohydrate that help to ensure you are consuming the nutrients required for optimal athletic performance and health.
Katie Jeffrey-Lunn, MS, RD, CSSD, is a registered dietitian, Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a columnist, and the owner of FitNutrition, LLC, in Old Lyme and Stonington, CT. She provides individual nutrition counseling, sports nutrition counseling for athletes and educational nutrition presentations on various topics for all age groups. www.fitnutrition.net