Pasta primo!

| Post published on August 29, 2018
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A new study reveals that pasta doesn’t contribute to weight gain

Pasta lovers rejoice! A new study on this often-vilified source of carbohydrates and its effects on our weight and waistlines brought comforting results – pasta does not contribute to weight gain if it’s consumed as a part of an overall healthy diet.

The study looked at pasta as a part of low glycaemic index (GI) diets. Glycaemic index is a measure of the speed at which carbohydrates (sugars) are released from foods. Low GI means low speed and a steady energy supply, whilst high GI means fast speed with a quick energy release followed by an energy dip. It’s desirable to eat foods with a low or medium GI (fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, wholegrains) and avoid foods with a high GI (sugary foods, processed snacks, refined white flour products). However, pasta – despite being made of refined flour – has a low to medium GI. According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, pasta is unique among carbohydrates in that its starch molecules are enclosed in a network of gluten, a type of protein found in wheat. This dense structure slows the release of pasta’s carbohydrates during digestion, making it a steady energy source.

The study evaluated the effect of pasta consumed as a part of low GI diets and found that people who ate pasta had a healthier weight than people who avoided it. Of course, wholemeal pasta is better than ‘white’ pasta but both can be a part of a healthy diet. The authors concluded that there’s no reason to avoid pasta and that current obsession with low-carbohydrate diets is unfounded.

Chiavaroli L et al., 2018. Effect of pasta in the context of low-glycaemic index dietary patterns on body weight and markers of adiposity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials in adults. BMJ Open. 8(3):e019438.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

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