Overconsumption of carbohydrates has long been linked to obesity and weight gain, but that theory may have been debunked when it comes to pasta, according to new research conducted by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Experts at the facility conducted a meta-analysis of 32 studies involving over 2,448 people who consumed pasta as part of a healthy low-glycemic index (GI) diet. The results were published Tuesday in the journal BMJ Open.

Participants in the study were over the age of 50 with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.4. In 21 of the trials, experts included subjects who were considered overweight or obese.

The study focused on a diet that consisted of other low GI foods as part of a low-glycemic index diet, researchers said. Foods with low GI values include vegetables and fruit, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"The study found that pasta didn't contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat," said lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper, a scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre, in a press release.

"In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern. In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet."

Those involved in the trials ate an average of 3.3 servings of pasta or one-half cup every week in place of other carbohydrates. In 12 weeks, subjects lost on average about 1 pound while BMI also decreased.

Researchers concluded that pasta might have been mistakably lumped in with other fatty carbohydrates that are believed to cause weight gain. When consumed in healthy portions, the popular starch could help people shed pounds.

Still, experts cautioned against overindulging, adding that more research is needed to see if pasta, incorporated into other types of diets not consisting of foods with low GI could help people lose weight.

Pasta may not cause weight gain, according to new research. A plate of pasta is pictured at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago on October 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for Waldorf Astoria Chicago