If you’re into pasta but you’re a bit worried about the scale, then I’ve got excellent news for you: not only does paste not make you fat, but it can actually help make you thinner.
In recent years, pasta gained a bad name: it makes you fat. As a result, countless “do it yourself” dieters decided to take it off the menu, or at the very least eat it as rarely as possible. But a new study conducted in Italy (where else?) found that this is completely unjustified. Pasta is a central component of the Mediterranean diet, and the new study found that pasta is actually associated with “a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity”.
Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology, I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy examined over 23,000 people recruited in two large epidemiological studies: Moli-sani and INHES. The results were quite surprising and really positive for pasta lovers.““`
“By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits – explains George Pounis, first author of the paper – we have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite. Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio”.
We already know that the Mediterranean diet is one of the best and healthiest options out there – including when it comes to weight control. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate consumption of protein, with an occasional glass of red wine. When it comes to carbs, the diet often turns to pasta, but this seemed to be quite a conundrum: how could the Mediterranean diet be so good, and yet how could pasta be so bad?
The latter was never really true, researchers say. The popular belief was not strongly backed by science, and what they’ve done now is push that line even further. Not only is pasta OK, it’s actually good for you.
“In popular views – says Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at Neuromed Institute – pasta is often considered not adequate when you want to lose weight. And some people completely ban it from their meals. In light of this research, we can say that this is not a correct attitude.”
Of course, this isn’t saying you should eat pasta all day long. The best diet is, as always, variety and balance, and this is exactly the case with pasta, Iacoviello concludes.
“The message emerging from this study, as from other scientific analyses conducted in the context of the Moli-sani Project and INHES, is that Mediterranean diet, consumed in moderation and respecting the variety of all its elements (pasta in the first place), is good to your health”.
Journal Reference: Association of pasta consumption with body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio: results from Moli-sani and INHES studies. Nutrition & Diabetes (2016) 6, e218; doi:10.1038/nutd.2016.20
Alexandra is a naturalist who is firmly in love with our planet and the environment. When she's not writing about climate or animal rights, you can usually find her doing field research or reading the latest nutritional studies.