Can eating pasta make you healthier and make you eat less saturated fat? According to a study presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting in November of 2016, the answer is “yes.” [1]

Researchers from Nutritional Strategies, Inc. compared data collected from U.S. adults between 2001 and 2012 and found that pasta lovers also tend to eat less added sugar. Wait, it gets better. Compared to people who avoid carbs, pasta-eaters were found to consume more essential vitamins and minerals including folate, iron, magnesium, and dietary fiber. [1] [2]

Diane Welland, a registered dietitian and Nutrition Communications Manager for the National Pasta Association, says:

“Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and legumes. This analysis underscores the nutritional importance of grains, such as pasta, as consistent with a healthy diet.” [2]

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the study was organized by the National Pasta Association. You could say they’re more than a little bit biased. [1]

But researchers have uncovered some positive things about pasta in the past. For example, last summer Italian researchers found that eating pasta as part of a Mediterranean diet might help people lose fat. The study’s lead author, George Pounis, said:

“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 shows that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.”

A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil. In the case of this study, pasta was eaten in small amounts, rather than as the focus of the meal.

If you’re going to eat pasta, opt for whole grain varieties. Carbohydrates are vital for energy, and whole grains are loaded with nutrients and complex carbohydrates that decrease insulin levels at the same time.

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The fiber in whole grain pasta can also improve bowel health, regulate your cholesterol, help you lose weight, and regulate your blood sugar.

So while pasta can fatten you up in large amounts, it should have a spot on your dinner plate from time to time.

Sources:

[1] Independent

[2] The Sun

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.