Stop Everything: New Health Study Says There’s No Reason to Skip Pasta

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A new study out of Italy is reporting what will no doubt be the best news spaghetti lovers have heard all day: Eating pasta is not linked to higher body mass index (BMI).

The study, conducted by the Department of Epidemiology, I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, and published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, examined 23,000 Italians. “By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits,” explained George Pounis, first author of the paper, in a press release, “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.”

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Of course, moderation is still a main player in making sure this works. “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. We’re talking about a fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean tradition, and there is no reason to do without it. 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 for your health.”

But before you help yourself to a second heaping, consider this: “I don’t love the word ‘moderation’ because it encourages people to make poor food choices, just in smaller amounts,” says celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella. “I do, however, believe healthy substitution can be very effective! You can get the same level of satisfaction without doing damage to your health. For example, some great pasta substitutions are kelp noodles or spaghetti squash.”

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