By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A recent study says pasta has been getting an unfair bad rap when it comes to weight loss, and it might be able to come off the public enemy list.

New research says pasta won’t blow your diet.

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“If you’re eating well, 80-90 percent of the time, you have some wiggle room 10 to 20 percent of the time,” explained Lindsay Malone of the Cleveland Clinic. “You don’t have to be a hermit and eat perfectly from your garden every day.”

Researchers investigated the link between pasta and weight gain by assessing 30 trials that covered almost 2,500 participants. They ate on average about two cups of pasta a week.

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Although pasta is made from refined grains, it’s low on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly food impacts blood sugar levels.

The study compared eating pasta as part of a diet based on other low-glycemic foods versus eating a high-glycemic diet without pasta.

The researchers found that people lost more weight on the low-glycemic diet with pasta, and that pasta itself did not cause weight gain or increases in body fat.

But experts caution that not all pasta is created equally.

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“If you’re going to eat pasta, look for something that does have a little bit higher nutrient-density, so pastas made with whole grains,” said Malone. “There’s even pastas that are made with beans now, so there’s some really good chickpea pastas on the market that have about
twice as much fiber, twice as much protein as regular pasta.”

And nutritionists say no matter what kind of pasta you choose, it’s important to watch portion size and various sauces, which can add calories.

Stephanie Stahl