An Italian study published in the journal 'Nutrition and Diabetes' this month, reveals for the first time a link between how much pasta you eat and how slim you are likely to be.
The study questioned some 23,500 men and women of varying ages and social backgrounds across Italy about their dietary habits and recorded their body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio.
The results of the study were surprising and good news for pasta-lovers everywhere.
“Our findings show a negative association of pasta consumption with general and central obesity” the authors wrote. In short: the more you eat pasta, the less you are likely to be overweight.
Body mass was found to decrease with pasta consumption in men and women. Source: 'Association of pasta consumption with body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio'. Nature and Diabetes, July 2016
The results run contrary to the popular belief that servings of pasta will have you piling on the pounds, a misconception which has caused pasta consumption to fall worldwide.
Even Italians are turning away from pasta, a food which has played a central role in the country's famed Mediterranean diet since medieval times.
The traditional Italian diet, based around cereals, legumes, seasonal fruit and veg and lashings of olive oil is considered to be one of the healthiest ways to eat.
But if the traditional Italian diet is so healthy, how did pasta get such a bad reputation?
The researchers lay the blame squarely at the feet of fad diets.
“Pasta consumption has decreased as the concept of adopting low-carb, high-protein diets against obesity has increased,” the authors wrote. But in spite of their popularity, there is still significant scientific debate surrounding the possible negative effects of such diets on kidney and bone health.
It turns out, that even among people who don't follow a healthy Mediterranean diet, pasta is still associated with a more streamlined physique. But why does pasta make you slimmer?
The precise mechanisms are still a mystery, but scientists think it has to do with the foods we tend to eat pasta with.
“Pasta intake was observed as being associated with the intake of other important food groups, such as tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and onions,” - foods, which can all be helpful when losing weight.
The true extent of pasta's weight loss powers will perhaps be revealed by a future study. Until then, feel free to tuck into as much pasta as you like, safe in the knowledge that a plate of spaghetti in and of itself is not going to cause you to balloon. Buon appetito!