Pasta lovers rejoice! A new study shows this beloved carbohydrate – much shunned and shamed by dieters the world over – could actually be quite good for you (*fist pump*).
Research conducted on behalf of the, ahem, National Pasta Association found that regular pasta eaters are more likely to have a greater intake of vital vitamins, minerals and otherwise under-consumed nutrients.
Although it seems likely the findings would be biased in favour of pasta, the data analysed by the scientists working on the study came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which, in theory, should have provided a relatively neutral sample.
They looked at the diet quality of US adults aged 19 and above from the years 2001-2012, and concluded that those who ate pasta had higher levels of folate, iron, magnesium and dietary fibre – all of which form an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. On top of this, pasta eaters were also shown to have a lower intake of saturated fat and added sugar, two factors that can lead to weight gain.
However, neither the sample set of data nor how often participants ate pasta was identified – another reason to take the findings, perhaps, with a pinch of salt.
A balanced diet
It is important to remember that this shows pasta to be beneficial as part of a varied, balanced diet. Diane Welland, registered dietician and Nutrition Communications Manager for the National Pasta Association, highlighted this:
‘Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and legumes. This analysis underscores the nutritional importance of grains, such as pasta, as consistent with a healthy diet. It shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don’t eat pasta.’
This report is not alone in championing pasta as part of a healthy diet. Last year, a survey of 23,000 Italians (yes, we know) found pasta consumption to be linked with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI). Indeed, it was even suggested that those with higher pasta consumption were slimmer than their carb-curbing counterparts.
However, it is worth remembering that we tend to eat far larger quantities of pasta in the UK than we need, with the recommended healthy portion being about the size of a tennis ball.