If you’re on a diet, your first instinct might be to stay away from pasta dishes. But, don’t write off noodles just yet. A new study published in Nutrition and Diabetes shows that the carb might not be as fattening as we thought. Researchers at the IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy, studied the eating habits, BMI (body mass index), waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio of 23,000 Italian men and women—14,402 participants over the age of 35 from the Molise region and 8,964 people over the age of 18 from all over Italy.
The researchers found that pasta consumption was associated with a lower BMI and is not linked to a person being obese or overweight. “In popular views, pasta is often considered not adequate when you want to lose weight and some people completely ban it from their meals,” Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at the Neuromed Institute, said in a statement. “In light of this research, we can say that this is not a correct attitude. We’re talking about a fundamental component of Italian Mediterranean tradition, and there is not reason to do without it.”
Of course, there are a few caveats to these findings. The participants in the study ate pasta in moderation and adhered to the Mediterranean diet, which is known for its weight loss benefits and link to longevity. So, you can have your pasta and eat it, too—as long as you don’t overdo it and make room for plenty of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and healthy proteins into your diet.