Year after year, time and time again, researchers and nutritionists have called refined carbohydrates out on their tendency to increase our risks of obesity, diabetes, heart stroke, so on and so forth.1 2 3 This has left pasta-lovers from around the world in a nutritional quandary as they stare glumly at the various whole grain options their supermarket has to offer.
No doubt, it is hard to break up with refined carbs, because we think their healthier counterparts will taste like cardboard. Opting for healthy noodles is also an option, but then again, they could be too chewy and dense and that would never do.
1. Whole Wheat Pasta
The most basic and traditional alternative to refined pasta, whole-wheat pasta is a fantastic option for those of us who are looking to up our fiber and protein intake. Unlike in the case of pasta made of refined carbs, the flour used to make whole grain pasta is not stripped of all its essential nutrients during the milling process. This kind of flour is also linked to a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer.4
2. Quinoa Pasta
Quinoa is technically a seed that can be ground into flour which can then be used to make breads and pastas. For this reason, most people consider it as a grain. Quinoa pasta is loaded with protein, more than you can find in pasta made of any other kind of flour. This type of pasta is also extremely rich in essential minerals like iron and magnesium. This gluten-free variety of pasta also brings down your blood sugar levels and helps keep your insulin and triglyceride levels stable, which makes this a great choice for those with celiac disease or gluten allergies.5
3. Spelt Pasta
Spelt is an “ancient grain.” This means its consumption dates back to thousands of years when the milling process wasn’t mechanized or complex enough to leave out the nutritional components of this grain. Because this process has remained intact, the grains are just as healthy as they used to be.
Pasta that’s made of spelt is high in fiber and protein, and completely free of wheat. However, being a relatively close cousin to wheat, it does contain gluten in moderate amounts. While this makes it a no-no for people with strict gluten allergies and celiac disease, it can still be a good option for those with low to moderate gluten intolerances.
When buying spelt pasta, you want to make sure the packaging specifically says “whole grain spelt” for there are some sneaky brands that sell refined in place of spelt.
4. Sprout-Grained Pasta
5. Brown Rice Pasta
|↑1||Sartorius, B., K. Sartorius, C. Aldous, T. E. Madiba, C. Stefan, and T. Noakes. “Carbohydrate intake, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer risk? A two-part systematic review and meta-analysis protocol to estimate attributability.” BMJ open 6, no. 1 (2016): e009301.|
|↑2||Yu, Danxia, Xiao-Ou Shu, Honglan Li, Yong-Bing Xiang, Gong Yang, Yu-Tang Gao, Wei Zheng, and Xianglan Zhang. “Dietary carbohydrates, refined grains, glycemic load, and risk of coronary heart disease in Chinese adults.” American journal of epidemiology 178, no. 10 (2013): 1542-1549.|
|↑3||Hu, Frank B. “Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 91, no. 6 (2010): 1541-1542.|
|↑4||Aune, Dagfinn, NaNa Keum, Edward Giovannucci, Lars T. Fadnes, Paolo Boffetta, Darren C. Greenwood, Serena Tonstad, Lars J. Vatten, Elio Riboli, and Teresa Norat. “Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” bmj 353 (2016): i2716.|
|↑5||Graf, Brittany L., Patricio Rojas‐Silva, Leonel E. Rojo, Jose Delatorre‐Herrera, Manuel E. Baldeón, and Ilya Raskin. “Innovations in health value and functional food development of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.).” Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety 14, no. 4 (2015): 431-445.|
|↑6||Mofidi, Anita, Zachary M. Ferraro, Katherine A. Stewart, Hilary MF Tulk, Lindsay E. Robinson, Alison M. Duncan, and Terry E. Graham. “The acute impact of ingestion of sourdough and whole-grain breads on blood glucose, insulin, and incretins in overweight and obese men.” Journal of nutrition and metabolism 2012 (2012).|