You know you love pasta. Most children list it among their favorite foods. Huge numbers of college students and broke young people basically subsist on the stuff. And I personally don't believe any adult who claims not to occasionally crave the satisfying comfort of a big heaping portion of spaghetti Bolognese or pasta pomodoro.
But while the joy of pasta is unarguable. It's healthfulness is very much in question. Aren't all of us responsible adults all supposed to favor low-carb options like quinoa and kale? And won't you end up getting fat if you indulge your love of noodles more than once in a blue moon?
The fear of unhealthful carbs and weight gain means many of us stare longingly at that box of penne in the pantry, but according to new science, it's time to end your battle with your cravings. A recent study shows that not only will eating pasta up to three times a week not make you fat, it might even help you become slimmer.
Ignore the anti-pasta propaganda
To come to a definitive conclusion about the health effects of eating pasta, researchers at St. Michael's Hospital decided to review 30 randomized controlled trials (the gold standard of research design) which together asked 2,500 people to replace other sorts of carbs in their diet with pasta. The results of the review were recently published in the journal BMJ Open (and highlighted on Business Insider). They offer good news for pasta fiends.
Eating pasta up to three times a week, the researchers found, won't cause you to pack on the pounds. In fact, if anything the evidence suggests that it might help you lose a modest amount of weight. Wait, what? Aren't refined carbs like pasta basically public enemy number one for dietitians?
This popular belief is based on a misunderstanding about what constitutes "good" and "bad" carbs. What you want to avoid, dietitians agree, is carbs with a high glycemic index , which basically means foods that offer your body a straight shot of sugar, like cupcakes and Wonder Bread. Pasta actually has a low glycemic index compared with other carbs. So as long as you're not giving up lentils in favor of the occasional bowl of Fettuccine, your love of pasta is probably a dietary win. Thanks, science!
Eating mountains of carbonara will still make you fat.
This is excellent news for pasta fans, but if shouldn't, of course be taken as a permission slip to indulge in ridiculous overindulgence. If the rest of your diet consists of Twinkies and fast food, eating the occasional bowl of pasta is not going to save your waistline. Nor are these findings an excuse to take your love of pasta to extremes -- heaping mountains of creamy carbonara at every meal will (sadly) still make you fat.
But if you use common sense and keep your portion sizes reasonable (scientists define a portion of pasta as one-half cup of cooked pasta, which is wildly less than you'll get on your plate at a chain restaurant), then pasta is a perfectly acceptable part of an otherwise healthy diet.
And with that, I'm off to the store to get the makings of a nice Bolognese.