Research Finds Pasta Eaters Have Better Overall Diet Quality

Mar 19

March is National Nutrition Month, so we are sharing good news for pasta eaters! Recent research published in Frontiers in Nutrition analyzed the diets of adults and children who eat pasta. The results? Pasta consumption in both children and adults is associated with a better diet quality and better nutrient intakes than that of those who do not eat pasta.

The research was conducted by Nutritional Strategies, Inc. on behalf of the National Pasta Association. The study examined associations between pasta consumption, shortfall nutrient intakes as defined by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, and diet quality in comparison to non-pasta consumption in the U.S. population – children (ages 2-18) and adults (> 19 years). Pasta consumption was defined as all dry domestic and imported pasta/noodle varieties made with only wheat and no egg.

Researchers identified key positive nutritional patterns associated with those who eat pasta as part of their diet compared to those who don’t. They are:

  • Better overall diet quality (as measured by USDA’s Healthy Eating Index-2010 scale).
  • Greater intake of key shortfall nutrients:
    • In adults these were: folate, iron, magnesium, and dietary fiber;
    • In children these were: folate, iron, magnesium, dietary fiber and vitamin E.
  • Lower daily intakes:
    • Saturated fat and added sugars in adults;
    • Saturated fat and total fat in children.
  • No differences were seen in total daily calories and sodium intake.
  • No significant associations were seen with body weight, waist circumference, and BMI in children and adult males. In adult women, pasta eating was associated with lower body weight and waist circumference.

“Pasta can be an effective building block for good nutrition throughout the lifecycle, as it serves as a perfect delivery system for fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and legumes,” explains registered dietitian Diane Welland, Director of Nutrition Communications for the National Pasta Association. “Think of pasta as a canvas from which you can add almost any nutrient-dense, fiber-rich food you and your family like, to create memorable and delicious meals. 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.”