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WHO doesn't love a steaming bowl of pasta?
Lovers of the comforting carb have often been made to feel like they can't indulge in it as much as they would like.
But according to new research, eating pasta regularly doesn't actually lead you to pile on pounds. In fact, it could form an integral part of a healthy diet and help with weight loss.
Pasta lovers rejoice – you can now add your favourite starch back on the menu!
"Pasta is a staple carbohydrate across many cultures but has been implicated in overweight and obesity due to its position as a refined carbohydrate," nutrition scientists Lisa Sanders and Joanne Slavin wrote in a study published on MDPI.
The pair analysed 38 published studies looking at pasta intake and body weight in both adults and children and found that "dietary patterns high in pasta were generally not associated with odds of overweight or obesity or were inversely associated".
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In other words, they found no link between how much pasta people consumed and their odds of being overweight.
In fact, one of the studies they looked into even suggested that "pasta can be included in a healthy diet and not contribute to weight gain or hinder weight loss", the nutritionists wrote.
The researchers only dug into data regarding regular white pasta, rather than wholegrain or gluten free pasta and egg or rice noodles.
Pasta tends to get a bad rap due being a white carb, which are generally thought to be low in nutrients and fibre, and have a high glycaemic index (GI).
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According to the NHS, the GI rating system shows how quickly foods affect your blood sugar levels.
Foods that have a high GI rating tend to be carbs that are quickly broken down by your body, causing a spike in blood glucose and later, hunger levels.
Meanwhile, "low GI foods, which cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall slowly, may help you feel fuller for longer", NHS guidance stated.
But Lisa and Joanne's research seems to demonstrate that pasta has been unfairly lumped together with ingredients like white bread, rice and potatoes.
"Clinical trials consistently demonstrate pasta to have a lower glycemic response compared to similar starchy foods, such as rice, potatoes, bread, and noodles," they wrote.
How you cook and serve your pasta might influence your waistline more than the food itself, nutritionists have suggested.
Boiling pasta changes the structure of the starch to make it more easy to digest.
According to Dr Tracey Robertson, a researcher in the University of Surrey’s department of nutritional sciences, you should cook your pasta al dente, leaving it with a 'bite'.
This retains some of the resistant starch in uncooked pasta, which is harder for the digestive system to break down into glucose, and therefore less likely to have an effect on you blood sugar levels.
A cold pasta salad, Dr Robertson told The Times, give the pasta time to reorganise back into resistant starch, lowering its GI even if you overcooked it.
Reheating pasta can also have a similar effect.
“There’s the added benefit that resistant starch acts like fibre and can become a source of nourishment for the microbes in the gut," Dr Robertson said.
If you like your spaghetti overcooked and piping hot, so much so that it melts the dusting of cheese you shower on top, you might be disappointed to hear this it the worst option for blood glucose management.
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And if weight loss is one of your concerns, Dr Robertson suggested switching up the sauce you douse your pasta in.
“If you eat it with a tomato or vegetable-based sauce, it will be a lot less fattening than if you eat it with a buttery, creamy or cheesy rich sauce such as alfredo," she explained.
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