Eating pasta linked to modest weight loss

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A new study has revealed that eating pasta as part of a low-glycemic index diet can result in modest weight loss, compared with consumption of a higher-glycemic index diet.

Low-glycemic index foods are those that do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels and include oatmeal, beans, nuts and most fruits. Higher GI foods include white bread, crackers, cookies, and other foods containing refined carbohydrates, WebMD reported.

Although pasta is a refined carbohydrate, it has a low glycemic index, according to study author Laura Chiavaroli, PhD, from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Chiavoaroli wrote that foods with a lower GI tend to be more filling, delaying hunger and additional eating.

Published April 2 in BMJ Open, the study reviewed 32 separate studies involving 2,448 adults that analyzed the effect of pasta on global and regional measures of body fat in the context of a low-GI diet.

Study participants who ate pasta lost approximately 1½ pounds over 12 weeks, compared with those who followed diets with higher-GI foods, the study found.

Participants experienced a similar pattern of weight loss over 24 weeks. “This finding is of particular relevance since many dietary studies are successful in demonstrating weight loss in the short term but not over the long term,” the authors wrote.

The study authors acknowledged that pasta can vary widely in its ingredients and processing. Even so, pasta had a significantly lower GI than white bread. The study also indicated that pasta’s GI is similar to other fiber-rich carbohydrates such as steel-cut oats, and its GI is lower than more commonly eaten foods such as breakfast cereals and skin-on potatoes. The authors noted that most people eat pasta produced with white wheat.

Elena Philippou, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition-dietetics at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, agreed with the study’s conclusion, according to Medscape Medical News.

Philippou said that eating pasta as part of a low GI-diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, may cause you to feel fuller, and it may have good effects on blood sugar. “Of course, it’s important that the general public understands that this doesn’t mean that one can eat as much pasta as they want and they will not gain weight.”

Philippou added, “Neither does it mean that they can serve pasta in cream and not gain weight either. Everything in moderation and as part of a healthy low-GI diet plan.”

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