According to the National Pasta Association, the average American eats 20 pounds of pasta per year - and, if you believe the carb-phobic diet rhetoric popularized in recent years, that's one of the factors contributing to the national obesity crisis.

But it turns out there's some good news for fettuccine fans and agnolotti acolytes: pasta might actually be good for you, assuming you're eating reasonable portions.

The study, published earlier this month in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, recruited nearly 25,000 subjects to examine how pasta fits into the much-touted health benefits of the Mediterranean diet - specifically, how pasta intake effected body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio. The participants tracked all of their food and drink intake, including portion sizes, in a food diary.

The findings were surprising: contrary to the low-carb, high-protein diet that many weight loss experts advocate as a way to shed extra pounds, the study authors found "pasta consumption was also associated with better adhesion to the Mediterranean diet in both genders." (Bonus: people who consumed more pasta also consumed more tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and seasoned cheese. Definitely not a bad thing.)

While the study didn't look at precisely why eating pasta allowed the participants to better follow the Mediterranean diet, one can imagine it has something to do with feeling satisfied: after all, eating more delicious, flavourful meals, rather than limp, boring "diet food," means you're less likely to overeat. Regardless, the study found "a negative association of pasta consumption with general and central obesity in two methodologically and geographically different, large Mediterranean populations."

So - you can feel okay about ditching the spaghetti squash, and embracing an old-fashioned, floury, al-dente vehicle for that delicious sauce you're planning for dinner tonight.

Grazie mille, science.

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