There's a catch, but it's not too bad.
Apparently, dreams come true. A new study published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes says that consuming pasta could actually help you lose weight.
Researchers at the IRCCS Neuromed Institute in Italy—a.k.a. the motherland of pasta—found a correlation between consumption of the beloved carb-y food and a lower body mass. In a survey of more than 23,000 people, researchers found that eating pasta was linked to better weight management "in part because it often occurs as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet," according to the Telegraph.
"We have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite," says lead author George Pounis. The survey found that "enjoying pasta according to individuals' needs contributes to a healthy body mass indiex, lower waist circumference, and better waist-hip ratio."
While the Mediterranean diet—with a heavy emphasis on oils, fish, fruits, and vegetables—has often been linked to better health (and could, according to some, even reverse the negative effects of junk food), this is the first study to factor in pasta as a key element in this diet.
This information comes amid recent debate in the nutritional community over what exactly is worse for the diet: carbohydrates or fat. Defenders of carbohydrates—like Licia Lacoviello, head of molecular and nutritional epidemiology at the Neuromed Institute—hope this study will counteract years of the unsupported dietary demonization of carbs. "We're talking about a fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean tradition, and there is no reason to do without it," Lacoviello says. "The message emerging from this study, is that Mediterranean diet, consumed in moderation and respecting the variety of all its elements, is good to your health."
Before you start to eat plate after plate of pasta with abandon, some say to proceed with caution. Dr. Gunter Kuhnle of the University of Reading says that while the Neuromed Institute's data is sound, "it is important to understand that pasta intake cannot be seen in isolation but that it is part of a dietary pattern." Essentially, pasta intake as part of a Mediterranean diet overall will positively effect your health; otherwise... probably not. However, Kuhnle does back up this research saying, "it is wrong to demonize carbohydrates as the data clearly shows that consumption of carbohydrate-rich food such as pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight."
So, pasta lovers, go forth and eat freely... as long as everything else in your diet is Mediterranean-approved. If you're already eating plenty of olive oil, fish and fresh produce, click here.