1. Pasta can help you lose weight.
Truth. A new study from the peer reviewed journal, Nutrition and Diabetes, was released this week, showing an association between higher pasta intake and lower body mass index (BMI). The study, which included 14,402 Italians, also showed better adherence to the Mediterranean Diet when subjects regularly included pasta into their diet — plus, a greater frequency of eating good-for-you foods like tomatoes, olive oil, onions, and garlic.
JACKIE’S TAKE: No surprise here. Pasta has always been a good-for-you food that can help promote feeling satisfied by a meal and facilitate weight loss! There’s been a lot of coverage this week about this, many citing “moderation” and “have a smaller portion.” This is missing a key component for true pasta lovers, though: No one wants to sit down and eat a teeny tiny bowl of spaghetti. You want to it to feel like you’re really eating something filling and delicious, right? My advice: Let’s cut the “small portion” talk and try doing like the Italians do instead: Stick with the International Pasta Organization’s Consensus recommendation of 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup cooked pasta per person per day. Then, pile on as many delicious sautéed-in-olive-oil veggies as you like (zucchini, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, spinach, garlic, onion…just to name a few). Mix these to your pasta, an sprinkle about 1/2-to-1 oz. of flavorful cheese, like parmesan or ricotta, on top. You can serve as-is or add about 3 to 4 oz. of lean protein, like chicken or fish, for an extra boost. Another key component of the Mediterranean Diet? Wine. So pour a glass, and mangia la pasta.
2. Butter will kill you.
Lie. Nope, butter won’t kill you … but it won’t “cure” you either. This week, a study of 636,000 individuals in 15 countries was released on PLOS ONE, showing that butter, a mostly saturated fat, was not associated with premature death or risk of heart disease, and was slightly associated with reduced risk of diabetes. The serving sizes ranged from 1/3 of a serving (that’s one teaspoon) to three servings (three tablespoons) per day.
JACKIE’S TAKE: The researchers were only looking at one single variable in this study — butter! — not a multitude of sources of saturated fat (others, by the way, include full-fat dairy, red and many processed meats, additional sources of animal fat, fried foods and baked goods). But since we humans don’t eat foods in isolation (when is the last time you kicked your feet up to chow-down on a stick of butter?), the results only demonstrate that butter isn’t toxic, but it’s also nothing to write home about. Dietary sources of saturated fat are still associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Since the dose makes the poison, choose your sources of this harmful-in-high-amounts nutrient and stick to unsaturated fats, like plant-based oils and seafood instead.
THE HEADLINE: GMO-labeling is finally happening.
Truth. GMOs, or genetically modified organisms found in certain crops, make the news just about once a week. But on Thursday, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would require food labels to call-out the GMO crops in a food product, establishing a national standard for all consumer food products on the market. Here’s where it gets tricky: GMO labeling is a hot topic in the food industry, and there are variations on how these labels would appear and educate shoppers. A label might have words describing the GMO crop (like, “GMO soybeans”) or a barcode that lets you scan the food to determine if a GMO crop is present.
Those who advocate for labeling in general are pushing for greater transparency of processed foods, empowering consumers to know exactly what’s in their food and where it comes from. Those who may not be in favor of GMO labeling (or who are in favor of a lesser degree of labeling) are also looking at how this may alter consumer perception of a food that they enjoy — possibly causing alarm about food when scientific evidence has yet to produce a definitive stance on whether or not GMOs are harmful to our health.
JACKIE’S TAKE: Is it just me, should we all just take a moment to be impressed that a bipartisan bill moved forward in the Senate at all? Jokes aside: Transparency around our food is extremely important. While the jury is still out on the direct impact of GMO food on our longterm health (and more research is needed), a food label that allows for a national standard and provides shoppers a way to get information about they’re eating can only be good.