Overweight people who regularly eat pasta lose on average 0.63 kg (one-and-a-half pounds) and also see a reduction in their BMI (body-mass index) score. But, best of all, it doesn't put on weight or make you fatter.
Researchers from the University of Toronto took another look at 32 studies, involving 2,448 overweight or obese participants, and the impact that pasta alone has on our weight.
Similar modest weight losses were seen in people who regularly ate pasta for six months or less, depending on how long they were monitored, and was especially beneficial when it was included with a healthy Mediterranean diet. One study found that increasing the amount of pasta helped 11 per cent of overweight or obese children regain a normal weight. Another study, involving around 20,000 Italians, concluded that pasta helped lower BMI and waist size.
Although there are many different varieties of pasta—such as the type of wheat used and processing techniques, and slightly different GI (glycaemic index) scores—they were all still healthier options than white bread, for instance, the researchers say.
Pasta is, nonetheless, a refined food low in fibre. Although whole-grain pasta may be healthier, the fibre that is added to pasta doesn't seem to increase the glucose or insulin response. It has a similar GI score as fibre-rich carbs such as barley and steel-cut oats, and a lower GI than other fibre-rich foods like whole-wheat bread, bran flakes and potatoes in their skins (jacket potatoes).
White wheat pasta has a higher micronutrient content than other white wheat products such as bread, and this is because the aleurone—the outer layer of wheat—is preserved in pasta because the food is made with harder wheats, such as durum. Even compared to breads that also use durum, pasta still has a lower GI because of the processing techniques.