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You may have noticed: the news is nuts. I mean, even in the best of times, good news gets neglected. So we've done a deep dive to surface the food news that got lost in the noise. Because, lately, nutrition science has confirmed a few of our sneaking suspicions -- and once or twice even fulfilled our wildest dreams. Here, then, is a short list of recent food science discoveries that have us feeling fine.

1. Pasta Doesn't Actually Make Us Fat

A study in Italy looked at pasta eaters -- and found that people with the lowest BMIs tended to eat the most pasta. The research was published in Nature and included this delectable morsel: "pasta consumption was negatively associated with BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio and with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity." A second study, published in the journal BMJ Open, backs up these results. This time the study involved pasta-eating Torontonians. According to the study’s lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper, “pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat...analysis actually shows a small weight loss.”

And in a related story...

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and Meatballs | Photo by Meredith

2. Starchy Flavor Is Actually a Sixth Taste

We can all name the 5 flavors: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter...and savory (umami). But now, Science may have happened upon a sixth category of taste. Starchy! Whuh? No, it's true. According to scientists from Oregon State University, starchy may be an elusive sixth taste, which could help explain our mad cravings for carbs, our need for noodles, and why we go into a frenzy for fries.

Carbonara pasta
Carbonara | Photo by Meredith

3. Cheese May Actually Be Good for Our Hearts

Truthfully, nobody saw this one coming. Although for years this was essentially all we've wanted for Christmas. Actually, we have two slices of good news about cheese: First, we learned that full-fat cheese may be just as healthy as low-fat cheese. Next, we learned about a compound in aged cheese that may actually protect the heart -- and maybe even have anti-aging properties. What's more, a study in The Lancet found that dairy foods, including cheese, were tied to a lower risk of mortality overall. For a ranking of cheese by healthfulness, check out this article in the Washington Post, which ranks cheeses from healthiest to least healthy -- and includes recommendations for cheeses to choose to satisfy certain health issues, like lactose sensitivity and calcium needs.

The news cannot get any better than this! Unless...

Assortment of Cheeses
Photo by Meredith

4. Something in Beer May Actually Protect Our Livers

Again, we never dared to dream it. But a recent study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism found that hops, an ingredient in bitter beers, may protect the liver by guarding against the build up of liver fat. Here's more on the story, including a break down of the hoppiest beers. Because when it comes to beers, it pays to be bitter.

Flight of Beer
Photo by Meredith

5. Coffee Might Make Us Live Longer

OK, maybe we just thought coffee was making us live longer -- because when we don't drink coffee, we pretty much Zzzz right through half the day. But now, Science has had its say. Here's a rundown of coffee's health benefits, which include protective qualities for heart disease, liver disease, and stroke -- plus, yes, an increase in overall longevity. And it's not just that coffee may be protective against disease, coffee is also linked to other things that help keep you alive, like increasing driver safety and improving workouts. Coffee just gets us.

Mug of black coffee
Photo by Meredith

6. Eating Nuts Helps Keep the Weight Off

Knew it! Every time we snack on nuts when we get home from work, it practically ruins us for dinner. Mom used to say that about potato chips ("You'll ruin your appetite!"), but it was never true. So why is it true about nuts? Or put another way, how does a food with so many calories coming from fat (about 80 percent!) help us maintain weight? Well, new nutrition research is showing that it may be nuts' unique triad of protein, fiber, and healthy fats: The fiber helps make you feel full right away, then the protein and fat reduce your cravings by keeping you feeling full longer. Can you handle four more surprising facts about how how good nuts are for you?

Mixed Nuts
Mixed Nuts | Photo by Meredith

7. Sugar Substitutes Were Just Making Us Hungrier

This one comes pretty much straight from the Department of Pure Evil. Scientists discovered that calorie-free artificial sweeteners may have an unkind chemical effect on the brain. In fact, rather than offering us some kind of (sugar-free) free lunch, they actually mess with our metabolism and baffle our brains, inducing hunger by creating a starvation-like scenario in the brain that makes us eat more! Such sweet saboteurs! Here's a little more on the story, including a trick for eating less of the foods you crave.

sugar substitute into coffee
Photo by Meredith


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