A recent study was published in a peer-reviewed journal called Nature that stated weight loss and pasta are a winning combination, but is this something that could also work for diabetics or those with pre-diabetes? Also, should people with diabetes choose white or whole wheat pasta to have the most success?
In the original article, published on July 4, several researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention in Pozzilli, Italy, found that pasta specifically did not cause weight gain when data was collected over a period of time with a wide-ranging demographic.
However, is adding pasta to your diet if you suffer from pre-diabetes or diabetes a successful way to lose weight as well as control blood sugar?
For the record, the American Diabetes Association has a list of myths about the disease and says it is not true that “If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.”
Instead, they say “[a] place to start is about 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per meal. However, you may need more or less carbohydrate at meals depending on how you manage your diabetes.”
On Harvard‘s public health website about blood sugar management, choosing foods that have a low gylcemic level are promoted as good choices for diabetics because they “are digested more slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar.”
When it comes to pasta, whole wheat pasta is rated as better than white pasta on the glycemic ratings, and this makes it an ideal choice for a diabetic diet (depending on portion size).
Although Harvard claims that whole wheat pasta is the same as eating brown rice as far as gylcemic levels, and there are studies that show excluding brown rice completely from the diet can be a bad idea if a person has a risk of diabetes in their health history.
For example, the New York Times wrote about a study in 2010 that says people who ate brown rice two times a week ended up cutting diabetes risk by about 10 percent “compared to people who ate it less than once a month.”
Within the same 2010 study about brown rice and diabetes, they also stated, “those who eat white rice on a regular basis — five or more times a week — are almost 20 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who eat it less than once a month.”
White pasta, on the other hand, does not seem to have the same negative effect as white rice. Despite the fact that the pasta and weight loss study went viral on July 4, the International Pasta Organization has been promoting a lot of helpful resources about their product that go back almost 10 years.
Among those resources are lists of a number of well-referenced claims based on academic studies that show positive links between pasta and weight loss from the New England Journal of Medicine from 2008.
Long before the 2016 Italian study that linked weight loss and pasta, International Pasta Organization claimed “pasta meals can help people maintain or lose weight.”
Specifically, the study noted a Mediterranean diet (as defined by Willett and Skerrett) or low-carb diet could produce weight loss results compared to a low-fat diet.
In another example, one of their claims is that “pasta does not lead to abdominal obesity,” and reference a study from 2005 published in Nutrition Journal.
This information about pasta and weight loss could be important because abdominal obesity is a sign of metabolic disorder, and Type 2 diabetes is sometimes a consequence of that disorder, according to Harvard Health.
Finally, the International Pasta Organization claims “pasta may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes” and cite a 2008 study found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In this study, the type of pasta they researched was “whole grain” and their final conclusion was that a “recommendation to increase whole-grain intake may reduce the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.”
In the end, it can be concluded that — as long as a person monitors their blood sugar and works with their doctor and nutritionist — there is no recent evidence to suggest that eating white pasta in controlled portions while having pre/diabetes is detrimental.
[Picture by J.M. Hirsch/AP]