Scientists Confirm Common Sense Approach to Eating is Best

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In Response to Rising Obesity Rates and Consumer Confusion, Leading Health Authorities Update and Confirm Health Benefits of Pasta Meals

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Scientists noted that pasta meals are affordable and are an important way to eat more vegetables, legumes and other healthy ingredients that are typically underconsumed in cultures around the world.

An international committee of scientists and food authorities today released a Scientific Consensus Statement concluding that eating a variety of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins tailored to individual preferences and lifestyle is essential. They also confirmed that healthy carbohydrate foods, like pasta meals, do not cause obesity, and made the recommendation that doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals should suggest varied and balanced pasta meals to their patients for good health.

This was the outcome of The Scientific Consensus Conference on the Healthy Pasta Meal, a two-day scientific conference organized by the non-profit Oldways and the International Pasta Organisation (IPO), as part of the IV World Pasta Congress, October 25-26, 2010, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The conference featured scientists from 13 countries exchanging information about their latest research on carbohydrates, nutrition, health, and pasta. This research was summarized in the Consensus Statement in a form that can be used by doctors, health professionals, dietitians, scientists, media, the food industry, and consumers. This statement serves as an important expansion and update of an earlier Pasta Consensus Statement developed with scientists from six countries and released at an Oldways Conference in Rome in 2004.

"The Scientific Consensus Statement paints a portrait of a common sense plan for healthy eating that includes pasta meals from around the world," said Sara Baer-Sinnott, President, Oldways. "Furthermore, the scientists noted that pasta meals are affordable and are an important way to eat more vegetables, legumes and other healthy ingredients that are typically underconsumed in cultures around the world."

One of the committee members, Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, MA), said, "The Consensus Statement highlighted new research since 2004 on the role of healthy carbohydrates in a balanced diet. There is a prevalent myth that eating carbohydrates makes people fat but scientific evidence shows that excess calories cause obesity. It is important to know that healthy pasta meals and other low glycemic foods can be part of successful weight loss diets and support long-term weight maintenance."

Key findings and conclusions include:

1. Scientific research increasingly supports the importance of total diet, rather than individual foods and nutrients.

2. Pasta is a key component of many of the world's traditional healthy eating patterns, such as the scientifically proven Mediterranean Diet. Traditional dietary patterns confer greater health benefits than current Western dietary patterns.

3. Many clinical trials confirm that excess calories, and not carbohydrates, are responsible for obesity. Diets successful in promoting weight loss can emphasize a range of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fat. All these three macronutrients, in balance, are essential for designing a healthy, individualized diet anyone can follow for their whole life. Moreover, very low carb diets may not be safe especially in the long term.

4. At a time when obesity and diabetes are rising around the world, pasta meals and other low-glycemic foods may help control blood sugar and weight especially in overweight people. Glycemic index is one of many factors that impact the healthfulness of foods.

5. Pasta is an affordable healthy choice available in almost all societies. Promoting the affordability and accessibility of pasta meals can help overcome the misperception that healthy foods are too expensive.

6. Healthy pasta meals are a delicious way to eat more vegetables, legumes and other healthy foods often underconsumed.

7. Pasta meals are enjoyed in cultural traditions worldwide, as they are versatile and easily adaptable to national / regional seasonal ingredients.

8. Doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals should recommend varied and balanced pasta meals for good health.

Scientists on the panel represented the U.S., Canada, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Italy, Turkey, Chile, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

About Oldways

Oldways ( is an internationally-respected non-profit, changing the way people eat through positive and practical programs grounded in science and tradition. It is the parent organization for The Whole Grains Council and The Mediterranean Foods Alliance, and is well known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

For a copy of the "Healthy Pasta Meals" Consensus Statement (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian) please contact: Alison Clancy (617-896-4888)

Visit the Oldways website for more information


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