Pasta isn't the diet villain you think it is, new study claims

Pasta may not be as terrible for your diet as popular dieting brands suggest. A study newly published in BMJ Open details a "systematic review and meta-analysis" of existing randomized controlled trials in helping determine whether pasta is as bad as some believe. According to the findings, participants in clinical trials who consumed an average of 3.3 servings of pasta per week instead of other carbs didn't gain weight because of it.

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Pasta is typically regarded as a carbohydrate that is rapidly absorbed into the consumer's bloodstream, making it a poor choice for most diets, particularly those centered around weight loss. However, pasta has a low-glycemic index, which means it doesn't have as strong of an impact on blood sugar levels as a high-glycemic index food.

Researchers analyzed existing controlled trials to try and determine whether consuming pasta as part of one's diet has a negative effect on weight loss or results in weight gain. A total of 2,500 people participated in 30 randomized control trials that tasked participants with eating pasta instead of other carbohydrates. The pasta was consumed as part of an overall low-glycemic index diet, meaning the participants weren't eating high-glycemic index foods.

The team concluded that the participants didn't experience a body fat increase or weight gain because of the pasta. "In fact analysis showed a small weight loss," according to Dr. John Sievenpiper, lead author. "So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet such as a low GI diet."

Of course, this doesn't mean eating pasta is going to make you lose weight, nor does it mean you should start eating unrestricted quantities of pasta. The participants were consuming relatively small quantities of the food per week as part of an overall low-glycemic index diet; the average serving worked out to a little under 1.5 cups of cooked pasta every week. Consuming an excess of calories will lead to weight gain regardless of which food is consumed.

SOURCE: EurekAlert, BMJ Open