Pasta consumption in adults linked to overall better diet quality

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New research analyzing the diets of people who eat pasta has revealed more good news about one of America's favorite foods. The research on pasta, presented at The Obesity Society's annual meeting in New Orleans this past November, concluded that pasta consumption in adults is associated with overall better diet quality when compared to adults who don't eat pasta. Also, pasta-eaters have greater adherence to the U.S. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, as they are consuming greater amounts of shortfall nutrients, including folate, iron, magnesium and dietary fiber. Shortfall nutrients are the nutrients most people lack in their diets. The research also found that pasta consumers are eating more essential nutrients, less saturated fat and less added sugar compared to those who don't eat pasta.

The research, entitled "Pasta consumption is associated with greater intake of 2015 Dietary Guidelines' shortfall nutrients, a better diet quality and lower added sugar in American adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001-2012" was conducted by Nutritional Strategies, Inc. on behalf of the National Pasta Association. It examined associations between pasta consumption, shortfall nutrient intakes as defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines (2015 DG) and diet quality in comparison to non-pasta consumption in U.S. adults. The data review did not look at any health outcomes associated with pasta consumption.

Researchers analyzed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2012 data on U.S. adults (> 19 years of age). Diet quality was measured using the USDA's Healthy Eating Index-2010 (which measures one's diet against the USDA Dietary Guidelines), and pasta consumption was defined as all dry domestic and imported pasta/noodle varieties made with only wheat and no egg. From the analysis, researchers identified a number of key positive nutritional dietary patterns associated with those who eat pasta as part of their diet compared to those who don't eat pasta. They are:

• Higher diet quality scores (as measured by USDA's Healthy Eating Index-2010 scale)
• Greater intake of shortfall nutrients like folate, iron, magnesium and dietary fiber
• Lower daily intakes of saturated fat and added sugar
• Greater vitamin and mineral intake overall

"The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines encourage the consumption of all types of grains for the many nutrients they provide. 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," explains registered dietitian Diane Welland, 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."

Pasta has long been celebrated as one of America's favorite foods and advocated by nutritionists for its good nutrition. In addition to the nutrients mentioned in this new research, pasta also provides important carbohydrates, which the body uses for energy. Pasta is a low-sodium and cholesterol-free food with a low glycemic index. Low glycemic index foods keep blood sugar levels regular.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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