Many diet books, health experts, celebrities, and even TV show and movie characters have waged an intense anti-carb war for quite some time now. The consensus is pretty clear: we should avoid carbs at ALL costs if we want to lose weight (and that of course we should want to lose weight). But is that really true?
A new Italian study says no, pasta is actually a huge part of having a healthy lifestyle, TIME reports. The Department of Epidemiology, IRCCS Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy believes that consuming pasta can actually help to lower your body mass index, or BMI. Researchers surveyed over 23,000 people, concluding that eating pasta correlates with a reduction of BMI and abdominal obesity (AKA stomach fat).
In a statement, one of the authors of the study, George Pounis, said, "We have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite. Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals' needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio."
This news probably comes as a shock to many Americans. We have been led to believe that we should stay as farrrr away from carbs as possible because they will do nothing but make us gain weight. As it turns out, the Italian/Mediterranean staple isn't really all that bad for you—as long as it is eaten in moderation. In Italy, pasta is typically consumed in much smaller portions as a first course rather than as an entrée, which is quite different from the norm in the US.
According to TIME, the Italian government and the pasta company, Barilla, partially funded this study. Unfortunately, this means there may have been a pretty glaring conflict of interest. Even so, the study still seems legit. Carbohydrates are one of our primary energy sources, and can even help you maintain a well-rounded diet. Dr. Sanjay Gupta explained in a CNN video that whether the carbs you eat are healthy or unhealthy at first glance (think: fruit and veggies vs. soda and cookies), they all turn into sugar once they break down.
However, complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, take longer to fully convert into usable energy. Therefore, your blood sugar won't spike and start to store excess carbs as fat. So think about eating whole grain pastas rather than white pastas for more of a health benefit.
It's important to remember that pasta consumption has only been shown to correlate to a loss in abdominal fat, not to cause this loss. There are many other factors of a healthy lifestyle, and eating pasta alone probably won't solve all of your problems.