If you’ve walked down the pasta aisle lately you might have noticed new and different kinds of pasta popping up all over the place! We no longer have just wheat-based pasta to choose from. Instead, there’s an array of pasta options that can satisfy your taste buds and fit into any eating pattern.
WHITE FLOUR PASTA
Probably the pasta most of us are used to seeing is your run-of-the-mill white pasta. This pasta is made from white flour which is made from the endosperm of the wheat grain. This part of the grain contains carbohydrates, protein, and some B vitamins. Most of this pasta contains about 40 grams of carbohydrates per 2 oz serving (about 1 cup cooked). Most of these kinds of pasta offer 2-3 grams of fiber and about 7-8 grams of protein per 2 oz serving.
WHOLE WHEAT PASTA
Whole Wheat pasta gets its name from the fact that it uses the entire grain of wheat when producing the flour that eventually makes the pasta. Unlike white flour, whole wheat flour includes the bran and germ of the wheat grain as well as the endosperm. The bran and germ are responsible for providing fiber, iron, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, and phytochemicals (compounds found in plants that offer additional health benefits). Compare the nutrition label of whole wheat pasta with that of a white flour pasta and you’ll see a 2 oz serving of whole wheat pasta provides 5-7g of fiber compared to the 2-3g of fiber in the same amount of white pasta.
You may have noticed some pasta popping up that say they contain extra protein. Many of these are wheat flour mixed with other flour such as quinoa flour, lentil flour, pea protein, chickpea flour, and/or barley flour. These offer 10-14g of protein per 2 oz serving versus 7-8g of protein in white or wheat pasta. The addition of some of these flours increases the fiber content to 5-8g of fiber per serving. Some of these are made strictly from lentil or bean flour and can provide a gluten-free option. However, for those with celiac disease, make sure these are certified as gluten-free to prevent any chances of gluten contamination.
You may have seen some pasta that say they are made with vegetables. Most of these are wheat-based kinds of pasta that add in veggie puree or powder. These range from 2-4g of fiber and about 8g of protein per 2oz serving. The added vegetable puree/powder can boost some nutrients such as potassium and vitamin C but typically doesn’t increase fiber and may only contribute a few more nutrients than regular whole wheat pasta.
100% VEGETABLE PASTA
If you head to the frozen aisle, you’ll find a variety of vegetables that have been cut in a way to mimic different pasta shapes including zucchini and carrot noodles. These offer a great alternative for those looking for a lower-carb option that includes fiber and is packed full of vitamins and minerals. If this option works for you, consider purchasing a veggie spiralizer (like the one pictured) to make your own noodles at home!
-Jen Loweree, RD