Absolutely! New research published in Nutrients examined 38 studies evaluating pasta intake and body weight outcomes, as well as potential mechanisms by which pasta may influence body weight (e.g., appetite regulation, glycemic response). This new research suggests pasta consumption is not associated with overweight or obesity in healthy children and adults, and in fact, may be inversely associated with Body Mass Index (BMI) or abdominal obesity, particularly when consumed in the context of a healthy dietary pattern.
How can pasta do this? Research suggests slow digestibility resulting in a low glycemic response of pasta may play a role. A lower glycemic response may lead to a lower release of insulin. Insulin has been shown to trigger hunger and can potentially increase food intake. Cooking and cooling pasta also helps as this can lead to the formation of resistant starch, which can make you feel full longer. Other ways you can enjoy pasta and still keep your weight in check include:
Load up on the veggies
Veggies like zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers are low calorie options that add color, flavor and bulk to your plate. Dress with fresh herbs and light tomato or vegetable-based sauces, avoid pasta drenched in heavy creams or rich cheese.
Keep portion size in check
Although calories vary depending on type of pasta, one-half cup of cooked spaghetti contains a mere 99 calories, about a half gram of fat and a half gram of sodium. Instead fill up the plate by piling on the veggies with leafy greens like spinach, mushrooms, squash and onions.
Choose healthy fats
Olive oil, avocado and nuts are healthy fats and the best way to give your pasta a nutritional punch without overdoing it. Use them sparingly to perk up your pasta and vegetable dishes and you’ll still have room for a sprinkle of cheese like in this Greek Pasta salad. Or why not be creative and toss together a pasta salad with fruit and walnuts.
Make it Meatless
Meatless pasta dishes that don’t rely on cheese and meat but rather vegetables and beans, are naturally lower in calories and fat, like this easy 3-bean Macaroni Salad.