PASTAAn international committee of scientists and food authorities has released a Scientific Consensus Statement concluding that, contrary to fad diet thinking, pasta should be characterized as a healthy complex carbohydrate-containing food suitable to most diets.

For the first time since the original Consensus Statement was introduced in 2004, scientists addressed topics including gluten-free trends, sports nutrition and sustainability.

This was the outcome of The Scientific Consensus Conference on the Healthy Pasta Meal, a scientific conference organized by the non-profit Oldways, the International Pasta Organisation (IPO) and AIDEPI, as part of the V World Pasta Congress, October 25-27, 2015, in Milan, Italy.

The conference featured scientists from nine 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 released at an Oldways Conference in Rome in 2004 and updated in 2010.

“One of the important findings is that the actual process of making pasta creates a lower glycaemic food that is slowly digested and helps to control blood sugar and weight, differentiating it from other carbohydrates,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, President, Oldways.

It was also highlighted that pasta, a simple plant-based food, made most often of just two ingredients — durum wheat and water — also has a low environmental impact. In the Statement, scientists recognized the importance of addressing sustainability, although the topic was recently removed from consideration from the USDA Dietary Guidelines.

“Today, consumers are confronted with not just nutritional choices when it comes to food, but those that impact the environment and culture,” said Baer-Sinnott. As part of the World Pasta Congress program, David Katz, MD, Founding Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, reviewed research on the best dietary patterns for good health and discussed how pasta fits with that.

“If what we mean by best diet is a basic dietary pattern, then, yes, absolutely we can say what’s best — a plant-based diet, real food, close to nature,” said Katz. “You don’t have to eat pasta to have an optimal diet and optimal health but you can. And as you can, why wouldn’t you?” Scientists on the panel represented Argentina, Brazil, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the US.

To view the key findings and conclusions please see the Consensus Statement.