Carb Lovers, Rejoice: Science Says Pasta Won’t Make You Fat

There is nothing in this world more beautiful than a gleaming heap of spaghetti aglio e olio. Or perhaps a cozy clump of gnocchi in sage brown-butter. Or a palm-sized manicotti stuffed with ricotta and spinach and mamma’s very own homemade meat sauce. Basically, pasta is the be-all, end-all of foods. And now, science says that eating these delicious refined carbs (go home, whole wheat pasta—you’re not wanted here) won’t do anything to your waistline.

In a new study at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in (where else) Pozzilli, Italy, researchers studied the eating habits, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio of 23,000 Italian men and women. There were 14,402 participants over the age of 35 and 8,964 people over the age of 18 from all over the country.

Those blessed, blessed researchers discovered that eating pasta was actually associated with a lower BMI and not linked to a person being obese or overweight. Licia Iacoviello, the head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at the Neuromed Institute where the study was conducted said that the popular notion that eating pasta could impede weight loss is, in a word, wrong.

But (there’s always a but), there are a few cautions to take into account before you dive headfirst into a tray of baked ziti. First of all, the participants in the study ate pasta in moderation (that horrible word). Also, they adhered to the immensely popular Mediterranean diet—which is explicitly known for its weight loss benefits and links to longevity.

Don’t be discouraged, though—you don’t have to write off stuffed shells altogether. Just make sure you’re eating more fruits and vegetables than anything else and be sure to incorporate lean proteins and healthy oils and fats into your diet as well.