Could eating pasta actually be good for your diet?

Could eating pasta actually be good for your diet?

When starting a diet, pasta probably isn’t among the first foods that come to mind as a healthy weight-loss option. But a new study out of Italy found that eating noodles might actually help you shed some pounds.

Holy macaroni!

The analysis of over 23,000 Italians, which was published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, looked at noodle consumption compared to body mass index (BMI). They found that eating some pasta was associated with lower BMI and a lower likelihood of being overweight and obese.

“We have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite,” said George Pounis, an author of the study, in a news release.

The findings are also not the first to dispute the idea that pasta is bad for dieters. Another recent study examined food and nutrient intakes in middle-aged adults and found that that pasta intake among other food groups was negatively associated with BMI.

Rosemary Mueller, a registered dietitian at Advocate Medical Group’s Weight Management program in Park Ridge, Ill., cautions against loading up on the popular carbohydrate just yet. “The analysis cited was looking at eating habits of Italians. Other lifestyle factors, such as extent of exercise, like daily walking and levels of stress, also need to be separated out,” she says. “It’s also important to remember that while pasta is a food that is part of the traditional Italian diet, so is the consumption of more fish, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and olives, along with less meat, cheese and sweets, as compared to the traditional American diet.”

While Mueller doesn’t believe limiting pasta altogether is necessary for a healthy diet, she does say portion size is a factor to consider. “There is nothing wrong with consuming pasta in moderation as a part of a mixed, healthy diet,” she says. “But for some, it is hard to stop at a smaller-sized portion.”

She says consumers can improve the nutritional value of pasta dishes by changing the type of pasta they eat and including whole wheat, whole grain pastas or quinoa-mixed versions. Another helpful tip for dieters: opt for marina-based sauces instead of heavy-cream versions. Finally, Mueller recommends limiting total carbohydrate intake from all sources to not much more than about 50 percent of calories consumed.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.