Italian Study Finds Eating Pasta Is Linked to Healthy Weight

Anyone with an open-minded view of good nutrition is likely very aware that carbohydrates aren’t really the enemy, but could a diet that involves eating a daily serving of pasta really be the key to healthy living? Italian researchers seem to say so, claiming that consumption of pasta does not in fact contribute to weight gain. In fact, it was found to do the opposite.

How could this be? It’s one thing to accept carbs like fruits, starchy vegetables and whole grains as part of a healthy diet, but a plate of noodles covered in deliciously creamy sauce? That’s what most of us call “comfort food.” And it often leads to significant water weight gain the next day for many of us who decide to indulge.

When the researchers examined the eating habits of 23,000 Italian adults, they found that moderate pasta consumption was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) and a smaller hip-to-waist ratio compared to those who didn’t eat pasta. Nice, right? Sure, but there’s more to it than that.

It turns out that the key likely has to do more with how closely pasta lovers can stick to a traditional Mediterranean diet and that these findings don’t translate to a pasta free-for-fall for the rest of us. Pasta-consuming participants ate in moderation, giving the researchers enough evidence to suggest that 10 percent of daily calories from pasta is a healthy amount to shoot for.

Now here’s another big catch: Moderate pasta consumption was shown to be associated with a healthy weight, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily help people lose weight in order to get to a healthy weight. That’s something that every individual will have to experiment with for themselves.

Other variables worth considering here is that a healthy weight may be more heavily influenced by the other foods typically included in a Mediterranean diet plus the dramatically different portion sizes enjoyed in European countries compared to those often served in the U.S.

Even though pasta lovers seemed to be healthier than non-pasta lovers, we’d still need a closer examination of participants’ other food choices, eating habits and activity levels to see whether pasta is all it’s cracked up to be according to this particular study.

Regardless of what the benefits of pasta really may be, a Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. According to WebMD, the Mediterranean diet includes calories that come from 35 to 40 percent fat. These are mainly healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

A healthy Mediterranean diet is typically most focused on including the following foods:

  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Figs
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Whole grain bread
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Red wine

In general, the diet is very vegetarian with large amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish accounting for the majority of calories. Women can also enjoy one glass of red wine a day whereas men can have two. Red meat is quite limited to just a few servings a month, but poultry products and eggs can be consumed in moderation a couple times a week. Low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt can also be consumed in moderation.

So before you go ahead and start adding pasta to your diet, ask yourself how healthy your current diet already is (or isn’t) according to the Mediterranean style of eating or any general form of healthy eating. Don’t forget about portion sizes — a three-ounce portion of pasta that may be part of a Mediterranean diet is a far cry from what most American restaurant servings look like.

Making a Mediterranean diet part of your lifestyle may help lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, high cholesterol, type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It also offers a range of benefits for the brain including the prevention of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Try this Mediterranean pasta with fresh tomatoes recipe if you decide to get on board!

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Photo Credit: Unsplash


Sonia M

Thanks for sharing.

federico bortoletto
federico b1 years ago

Grazie della condivisione.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen1 years ago

Thank you

Wendi M.
Wendi M1 years ago

LOVE Pasta ;)

Teresa Antela
Teresa A1 years ago

I usually follow the mediterranean diet but prefer rice to pasta.

Debbi -.
Debbi -1 years ago

Coffee is bad for you. NO moderate amounts of coffee is good for you. Pasta is fattening! NO moderate amounts of pasta without a rich sauce is beneficial. As most of us have been say, _moderation_ is the key along with some not-so-common sense.

Aaron Johnson
Aaron Johnson1 years ago

I use pasta with my vegetarian diet. I use pasta frequently.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.