Italian scientists claim new type of pasta can help ward off heart attacks

Nick Squires
The newly-developed pasta, which contains barley, can help ward off heart attacks, researchers say - © liv friis-larsen / Alamy Stock Photo

It could only have happened in Italy, the land of linguine, vermicelli and tagliatelle - scientists in Tuscany have developed a new type of pasta that can help ward off heart attacks.

While health experts might frown on people gorging on too much spaghetti carbonara or creamy linguine, the new pasta is being touted as beneficial to well-being.

It is made from a mixture of standard durum wheat flour mixed with whole-grain barley flour, which is rich in a fibre called beta-glucan which enchances the growth of new blood vessels.

Those blood vessels then form “natural bypasses” in the event of a heart attack, according to the researchers in Pisa.

Scientists tested their theory on laboratory mice, feeding them the newly-developed pasta and then inducing cardiac arrest.

Mice which had been fed the barley pasta survived in greater numbers than a control group of mice which had eaten ordinary durum wheat pasta.

Italians swear by the health benefits of pasta, especially as part of the Mediterranean diet. Sophia Loren straining spaghetti on the set of The Two Women, 1960 Credit: Getty

The barley-munching mice also sustained less damage to their hearts, examination revealed.

The researchers, from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, revealed the results of their research on the website Scientific Reports.

They said the new pasta “makes the body more resistant to stress and to coronary artery disease.”

“It’s the first time that the formation of natural bypasses was encouraged via functional food, [in this case] pasta with barley beta-glucan,” said Prof Vincenzo Lionetti, who led the study.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that a sustained dietary intake of pasta enriched with [beta-glucan] safely increases coronary collaterals…and reduces mortality.”

Until now, “techniques to promote collateral artery growth required surgical treatments, the use of stem cells extracted from bone marrow or gene therapy,” said Prof Lionetti.

But the barley-enriched pasta had the effect of creating a “biological bypass” that naturally enhanced heart health.

 

 

 

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