Italian researchers say pasta isn’t fattening

Is a “pasta diet” craze on the horizon? Probably not. But a new study may help repair the reputation of pasta in the dieting world.

Diet and nutrition researchers in Italy said the nation’s most famous carbohydrate has gotten a bad rap. Pasta is often a no-no for people trying to lose weight.

Researchers at Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed I.R.C.C.S. said their findings suggest pasta consumption is associated with a lower body mass index, or BMI.

After reviewing the data from two significant epidemiological studies, researchers determined that pasta consumption was not linked to a higher rate of obesity. They found the opposite.

“By analyzing anthropometric data of the participants and their eating habits,” researcher George Pounis explained in a news release. “We have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight.”

Pounis is the first author of the new paper outlining the research, published this week in the Nature journal Nutrition & Diabetes.

“In popular views, pasta is often considered not adequate when you want to lose weight,” added Licia Iacoviello, who heads Neuromed’s Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology. “And some people completely ban it from their meals. In light of this research, we can say that this is not a correct attitude.”

Iacoviello says that followers of the Mediterranean diet can consume pasta as they would other components of the diet — in moderation.

Previously, science-minded pasta-defenders have pointed to the fact that pasta’s role as a dietary staple in Italy and the Mediterranean predates the modern obesity and diabetes epidemics. If there is a problem with pasta, some carb-friendly nutritionists say, is that it’s too often a vehicle for overly salty, sugary, fatty sauces.