white-pastaOver the past decade or two, pasta has earned a bit of a bad reputation in terms of nutritional value.  Thanks to low-carb dieting, pasta has been vilified as a fattening food and that led many people to reduce their intake—or stop eating it entirely.  And that, of course, has affected the pasta industry as a whole.

Well, suffice it to say, more research has been conducted to determine that pasta is not, in fact, fattening. And, according to the study—which has been published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes—pasta consumption has actually been associated with a “lower prevalence” of obesity and a better BMI (body mass index).

Not surprisingly, the study was conducted by the Italian Institute for Research, Hospitalization, and Health Care Neuromed through the Italian Nutrition and Health Survey.

According to lead study author George Pounis, “Contrary to what many think, pasta is not associated with an increase in body weight – rather, the opposite.”  He goes on to say, “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.”

Similarly, study co-author Licia Iacoviello, who is the Neuromed Institute Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, adds, “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. 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 to your health.”

And so, in short, pasta does not make you fat.

However, the study also looked at portion sizes.  Italians, apparently, don’t eat as much pasta in a serving as Americans.  When shown pictures of portions, Italians indicated that a “very large” portion was about 86g.  This translates to only three ounces, which is less than a quarter of a standard box/package of pasta.  So, perhaps, Americans who feel pasta is fattening are simply eating too much in one sitting.