Carbs often get a bad rap in weight loss circles, with pasta taking the brunt of criticism. However, according to dietitian Shyla Cadogan from StudyFinds, pasta isn't inherently unhealthy. The key is to watch portion sizes: a typical serving is around 2 ounces of uncooked pasta, or 1 cup cooked, containing roughly 200 calories, 40g carbs, 6g protein, and 1-2g fiber. Despite being carb-heavy, pasta offers valuable energy for the body, debunking the notion of it being "empty calories."

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Whole-grain pasta, rich in fiber and protein, helps you feel full longer, reducing the chance of overeating. However, the preparation matters: heavy sauces, meats, and cheeses can load up on calories, unbalancing the dish. Eating pasta as a main rather than a side often leads to larger portions, risking overconsumption. To maintain balance, pair pasta with colorful veggies and a protein source like marinara sauce. Alternatively, treat pasta as a side dish, and explore alternatives like chickpea, protein, edamame, or black bean pasta for added fiber and protein, ensuring it's part of a well-rounded meal.

Pasta not only offers fiber and protein but also boosts happiness. A study by the Behavioral and Brain Lab at the Free University of Languages and Communication IULM in Milan found that eating pasta can elevate mood, comparable to hearing a favorite song. Researchers observed 40 participants enjoying pasta while monitoring their physical and neurological responses, comparing them to reactions during music and sports. Pasta surpassed both, evoking positive emotions and stimulating cognitive memory processes. Riccardo Felicetti, president of Unione Italiana Food, hailed pasta as the "food of happiness," backed by the study's findings.