The great Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini once said that “life is a combination of magic and pasta.” Now it appears that Fellini's favorite food may actually hold the key to a healthier lifestyle. A new study published by Italian researchers in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes claims that eating pasta in moderation—a dish long associated with comfort food, bulging guts, and mom's home cooking—may lead to a smaller waistline and a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
"Pasta as a traditional component of [the Mediterranean diet] in Italy has not been studied in detail in the management of body weight," the report, which looked at the eating habits of more than 23,000 Italians, states. "Pasta consumption was negatively associated with BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio and with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity."
"Higher pasta intake was associated with better adhesion to the Mediterranean diet in both genders," the study continues.
While the Mediterranean diet is often praised for its health benefits—encouraging men and women to consume items like olive oil, fruits, legumes, and vegetables found in Greece, Italy, and Spain—pasta has been an under-researched component of the region's cuisine for too long, the study claims. Now, Licia Iacoviello, the report's principal investigator, has set out to prove the dietary merits of spaghetti, linguine, ziti, and rigatoni once and for all.
In Italy, carbohydrates are consumed mainly in the form of pasta, according to the study, and researches found that eating the food encouraged Italians to consume other ingredients like cooked tomatoes, garlic, onions, rice, and seasoned cheese. Still, obese eaters who slurp oodles of buttered noodles may not be poised to loose much weight through the pasta diet.
"Both in women and men, the obese population was older and at lower socioeconomic status, had higher waist and hip circumferences and waist-to-hip ratio, and consumed more pasta (grams per day) than normal or overweight participants," the study found.
Basically, one should eat pasta in moderation, and balance it with other healthy ingredients, in order to achieve a slimmer, Mediterranean lifestyle. In America, tomato sauce on pizza is considered a vegetable, so anything is possible, really.
Italians—purveyors of arguably the best cuisine on the planet—take their food and beverage seriously, and defend their merits to the hilt. A new bill drafted this spring by an Italian senator proposed teaching wine classes to students ages 6 to 13, and in May, an Italian judge ruled that a man could make his child support payments in pizza.