When people picture health food, a plate of spaghetti may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But as CNBC reports, a new study out of Italy suggests that pasta’s reputation as a fattening food may be undeserved.
Researchers looked at more than 23,000 participants in Italy and found that pasta not only shows no correlation with obesity but is actually associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) overall. The study published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes [PDF] is one of the first to zero in on this specific component of the lauded Mediterranean diet. As one study author, George Pounis, explained in a press release, “Our data shows that enjoying pasta according to individuals' needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference, and better waist-hip ratio.”
As with any diet-related study, these findings should be taken with a grain of salt. Serving sizes tend to be smaller in Italy than in the U.S., where portions have nearly tripled in the past two decades. And while pasta may be relatively innocuous on its own, it’s often used as a vehicle for other foods like butter, cheese, and high-sodium sauces. As long as it’s enjoyed as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet (perhaps with other Mediterranean diet staples like olive oil and fish), this is one comfort food you probably shouldn't feel guilty about indulging in.