Pasta isn’t at the top of many dieters’ grocery lists, but a new study says the maligned food isn’t deserving of its bad reputation.

Researchers from Nutritional Strategies, Inc. analyzed data from 2001 to 2012 on United States adults aged 19 and older taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The team compared the diet quality and nutrient intake of pasta eaters and those who didn't eat pasta using the  2015 Dietary Guidelines and the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index.

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Turns out, people who ate pasta had a greater intake of vitamins and minerals including those nutrients that are under-consumed like folate, iron, magnesium and dietary fiber. They also had lower intakes of saturated fat and added sugar.

It’s worth noting, however, that the study was performed on behalf of the National Pasta Association. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which assesses the diets of tens of thousands of U.S. adults and children. The study did not identify the sample set of the data or how often participants ate pasta.

This is not the only report redeeming pasta. Last year, a study published in Nutrition & Diabetes found that pasta consumption was actually linked to a lower Body Mass Index in a sample of 23,000 Italians.  

In fact, an analysis of nearly 50 studies showed that low-carb diets are just as effective in weight loss as the higher carb, low-fat diets, according to Consumer Reports. “Pasta doesn't deserve its bad rap for being unhealthy and fattening,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a dietitian in Consumer Reports’ food lab.

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Despite evidence that supports eating carbohydrates, many popular diets like Paleo and Whole30 omit pasta. Of course, many nutritionists still advocate for a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates. “Whole grains are the preferred choice, but there is room in your diet for some refined grain products,” Keating says in Consumer Reports.

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