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.
For more information, recipes and facts about pasta, visit www.pastafits.org.