If you love your pasta but you’ve been avoiding it because you’re afraid it will cause you to pack on the pounds, cheer up. A new Canadian study found that even though pasta has gotten tons of bad publicity for its alleged part in the ongoing obesity epidemic, the negative attention may not be deserved.
Pasta is a refined carbohydrate, but unlike most other forms of refined carbs, which are quickly absorbed into the blood stream, pasta has a low glycemic index. A low glycemic index means it causes smaller increases in blood sugar levels than those caused by eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as potatoes, white wheat bread, and white rice.
Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital reviewed 30 randomized, controlled trials of people who ate pasta instead of other carbohydrates as part of a healthy low-glycemic index diet.
“The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” said lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper. “In fact, analysis actually showed a small weight loss.” Sievenpiper continues by saying that contrary to concerns, pasta could be a part of a healthy diet, such as a low glycemic diet.
The people studied ate, on average, 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates. One serving equals about one-half cup of cooked pasta. They lost a little over a pound over a median follow-up of 12 weeks.
“In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” said Dr. Sievenpiper.
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open.
An earlier study published in the Annals of Oncology found that while bread was associated with an increased risk of postmenopausal breast and colon cancer — as well as weight gain — researchers found no association between cancer and the consumption of pasta.
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