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Pappardelle al Cinghiale

Pasta is not the unhealthy carbohydrate we once thought it to be. A recent Italian study states that the Mediterranean staple, under a wholesome diet, is contributive to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference, and better waist-hip ratio.

A recently published study from the Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed I.R.C.C.S. in Pozzilli, Italy, found that pasta is associated with a reduced probability of obesity, based on data from more than 23,000 Italians.

According to George Pounis, a co-author of the study, “the 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.”

Licia Lacoviello heads the molecular and nutritional epidemiology department at the Neuromed Institute, and clarifies that “the message emerging from this study is that a Mediterranean diet, consumed in moderation and respecting the variety of all its elements, is good to your health.” One significant aspect to take into account when reading the study is that Italians eat smaller portions of pasta, as it is considered an appetizer rather than a main course.

Researchers analyzed the eating habits of 14,402 randomly selected participants aged 35+ years, as well as 8,964 participants aged 18+ years, from the Molise region and other parts of Italy, respectively. Weight, height, waist, and hip circumference were measured or self-reported by individuals.

Dr. Gunter Kuhnle, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Health at the University of Reading, says that the study appeared sound. Kulhne specifies, however, that those who participated in the study eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, which tends to be high in mono-unsaturated oils, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.

The study, partially funded by the family-owned pasta company Barilla, as well as the Italian government, does not give consumers carte blanche to eat excessive amounts of pasta. They recommend that consumers eat a serving of approximately two ounces in a well-balanced meal.

For more information about the study, please visit Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo I.R.C.C.S.

[via Food Tank]