Eating pasta is good for you again, according to a new study that has been welcomed by common-sense dietitians.
The study, published in peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ Open, compared results from 30 randomised trials and found that small, regular quantities of pasta actually resulted in weight loss for participants.
It’s a wild departure from the low-carb advice found in the Atkins, Paleo and Keto diets – so-called “fad” diets that advised swapping foods like bread, pasta and potatoes for vegetables, fish and meat.
But dietitian Di Wintle said some of those recommendations, like eating bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning, were probably bad for you.
“The eggs are OK, bacon’s a once-a-week thing, but pasta has a low glycemic index, so of course it’s fine in moderation,” Ms Wintle said. “These fad diets in general have an element of truth but then they get blown out of proportion… it’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say ‘no carbs’. There’s a big difference between junk food – white bread and burger buns – and wholegrain bread, vegetables, that sort of thing.”
Dr John Sievenpiper, lead author of the BMJ Open study, said pasta had been unfairly demonised because it had been lumped in with other, more fat-promoting carbohydrates.
“The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” he told London’s Telegraph. “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.”
Unlike refined carbohydrates – found in foods like white bread – pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning it is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly and so does not cause high blood sugar levels. This is critical for weight loss, according to the CSIRO, because it helps people feel fuller for longer.
According to Ms Wintle, the recipe for weight loss was quite simple.
“We need to eat food from all food groups,” Ms Wintle said. “There’s a great saying that if your grandmother wouldn’t recognise it don’t eat it. So simply eat from all food groups, watch your portion sizes and eat plenty of leafy greens.”