In news that will please pasta lovers everywhere, a new study has concluded that those who indulge in our favourite Italian staple tend to have healthier diets than those who cut it out altogether.
Research presented at the Obesity Society's annual meeting in New Orleans compared data from American adults between 2001 and 2012 as part of the US's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Their findings suggested that pasta eaters eat less saturated fat and added sugar than pasta avoiders, and consume more folate, iron magnesium and dietary fibre, important nutrients that many of us fail to include sufficiently in our diets.
'Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and legumes,' says Diane Welland, a dietitian and Nutrition Communications Manager for the National Pasta Association. 'This analysis underscores the nutritional importance of grains, such as pasta, as consistent with a healthy diet. It shows that pasta eaters have better quality diets than those who don't eat pasta.'
Hands up who's already dreaming of dinner?
It's important to bear in mind that the study was organised by the National Pasta Association, who certainly have a vested interest in proving the health benefits of the carbohydrate.
Another study, which was published last summer, found that pasta consumption is not linked to obesity, and can in fact be linked with better weight management as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet.
'What is interesting [...] is that these results clearly show that it is wrong to demonise carbohydrates as the data clearly shows that consumption of a carbohydrate-rich food such as pasta does no have an adverse effect on body weight,' Dr Gunter Kuhnle said of the research at the time.
The perfect excuse to cook up a bowl of spaghetti this evening? We think so...