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Is Pasta Good for You?


A new study claims pasta is not fattening if eaten in moderation and along with other staples of a Mediterranean diet.

A new study claims pasta is not fattening if eaten in moderation and along with other staples of a Mediterranean diet.


From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

The Italian actress Sophia Loren reportedly once said, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

What we see is her great figure – a figure she credits to eating pasta.

But many people consider pasta bad for maintaining a healthy weight. Modern food experts often suggest avoiding pasta and other carbohydrates, such as white rice and potatoes.

That suggestion is bad news to many people. After all, rice is a staple of many Asian countries; potatoes are a staple of some Eastern European diets; and pasta is a staple of the Italian diet and a favorite of people everywhere.

These foods are also called comfort foods. A comfort food reminds you of home and, well, comforts you.

But now, a new study brings great news to pasta lovers around the world. The study suggests that pasta doesn't make you fat. In fact, the study says pasta may even reduce the chances of obesity. In other words, pasta may make it less likely you will become very overweight.

We should note that this research was done in Italy, where eating pasta is very common.

Mediterranean diet and moderation

The pasta researchers analyzed the diets of more than 23,000 people. They published their findings in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes.

The researchers note that pasta is part of a traditional Mediterranean diet. Many studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, this study specifically looked at the role that pasta plays.

Pasta, the researchers found, "contributes to a healthy body mass index (BMI), lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio." (Again, think of Sophia Loren.)

Licia Iacoviello is the head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at the Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care in Pozzilli, Italy. Researchers at this institute conducted the study.

Iacoviello says that the popular view these days is that pasta is not a good choice when you want to lose weight. She adds that “some people completely ban it from their meals."

But, she says, "In light of this research, we can say that this is not a correct attitude."

However, before you help yourself to a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, you should know this: eating too much pasta will not provide the benefits researchers describe.

Iacoviello warns that pasta should be eaten in moderation. And, she says, it should be part of a diet that includes a variety of common Mediterranean foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, nuts, olive oil and legumes.

In fact, a different study shows that even the fatty foods in the Mediterranean diet are healthy. These fats include olive oil, nuts, avocados, eggs or fatty fish. The Mediterranean diet is light on meat and dairy.

The lead researcher of the study on fats in the Mediterranean diet is Dr. Hanna Bloomfield. She says that people who eat “a Mediterranean diet with no restriction on the fat they eat “have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”

For this study researchers reviewed results of more than 300 previous studies on the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.

The combination of these two studies seem to suggest that eating a Mediterranean diet is not only good tasting but good for you.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Do you enjoy eating pasta? What is your favorite comfort food? Let us know in the Comments Section!

Reporters at VOA News researched this report. Anna Matteo wrote it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

figure – n. bodily shape or form especially of a person and usually a female <a slender figure>

carbohydrate – n. any one of various substances found in certain foods (such as bread, rice, and potatoes) that provide your body with heat and energy and are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen

staple – n. a commodity for which the demand is constant : something having widespread and constant use or appeal : the sustaining or principal element

comfort food – n. food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family, or friends

moderation – n. an amount that is neither too much nor too little

body mass index – n. a measurement that shows the amount of fat in your body and that is based on your weight and height

circumference – n. the external boundary or surface of a figure or object

ratio – n. the relationship that exists between the size, number, or amount of two things and that is often represented by two numbers

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