Most people dismiss pasta as an “unhealthy” food — one that’s full of carbs and causes weight gain. Many try to cut it out completely in an effort to drop some pounds, yet a study carried out in Pizzilli, Italy at the IRCCS Neuromed’s Department of Epidemiology suggests otherwise.

The study, which monitored over 23,000 subjects, was published in Nutrition and Diabetes and may disprove the common opinion that pasta, a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, is fattening.

A myriad of studies has already shown that the Mediterranean diet is among the most healthy and weight-conscious, so its inclusion of pasta has seemed questionable in the past.

George Pounis, the study’s lead author, stated in a press release that consuming pasta in moderation can actually lead to a healthier body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio, and a smaller waist circumference.

The head of the Neuromed Institute’s Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Licia Iacoviello, explained in a press release that “in popular views, 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.”

In fact, eating pasta is correlated with a lower chance of developing abdominal and general obesity, according to the study, which examined the participants’ dietary habits as well as their anthropometric data. This led Iacoviello to conclude that adhering to the Mediterranean diet in all its glory is, overall, beneficial to one’s health, and pasta is no cause for concern as long as one does not eat too much of it, as is the case with most foods.

The research team examined about 14,000 subjects 35 years or older from the Molise region of Italy and about 9,000 subjects below 18 from all over the country in two distinct analyses. To look into their diets, the subjects were asked to recall their intake over the last day and fill out the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)’s food frequency questionnaire. They also measured the subjects’ hip and waist circumferences, heights, and weights.

Interestingly enough, those who ate more pasta tended to better stick to the Mediterranean diet across the board.

Furthermore, after mathematical analyses were corrected for various factors, the consumption of pasta was negatively related to Body Mass Index as well as waist-to-hip-ratios and hip and waist circumferences.

What the scientists found was that pasta consumption was related to slimmer bodies and lower weight overall. Being a staple of the Mediterranean diet and the main ingredient in a variety of delicious traditional dishes, we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we can have our pasta and eat it, too.

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