Health and Medicine

Pasta: Our New Health Food?

pasta healthy

Contrary to popular beliefs, pasta consumption does not contribute to obesity but rather is associated with a decrease in body mass index, says new research from I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy.

In recent years pasta has gained a bad reputation: it’s fattening. Dieters have been limiting pasta consumption for years, often as part of combative “do it yourself” diets. A new study defends this integral element of the Mediterranean diet, showing that pasta consumption is actually associated with a reduced likelihood of both general and abdominal obesity.

The research, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, examined over 23,000 people recruited in two large epidemiological studies. George Pounis, the first author of the paper, explained that by analyzing anthropometric data about the study participants and their eating habits researchers learned that pasta consumption is not associated with an increase in body weight, but rather the opposite. Study findings showed that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributed to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.

Many studies have already demonstrated how the Mediterranean Diet is one of the most healthy nutritional regimes, especially when it comes to weight control. Very little was known about the specific role of pasta in the diet, however. This data from the Neuromed study now fills this gap.

According to Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at Neuromed Institute, pasta is not usually considered adequate when people want to lose weight, and some people even completely ban it from their meals. In light of the study findings, however, she says that it’s clear that this is not the correct attitude. Pasta is a fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean tradition, and there is no reason to go without it.

This study, as well as other scientific analyses conducted in the context of the Moli-sani Project and INHES, shows that a Mediterranean diet, consumed in moderation while respecting the variety of all its elements–including pasta–is good for your health.