Pick a Pasta for a Healthy Meal.
Pasta takes a bad rap from many nutritionists. Plain pastas are usually made from processed and refined white flours, which add very little nutrition or fiber to the human diet, while potentially adversely affecting blood sugars.
However, pasta can be a nutritious source of complex carbohydrates, but the choice of pasta is essential. Here are seven super pastas, made from healthy grains, along with several additional healthy pasta choices (listed at the end of this article).
Brown Rice Pasta
Brown rice pasta is an excellent healthy pasta alternative. Because brown rice pasta usually contains no wheat, it is ideal for those with gluten sensitivities.
Corn pasta, or maize pasta, is made from ground corn. Often, corn pasta also contains rice, quinoa or additional grains. The healthiest corn pastas are made from fibrous corn meal, rather than corn flour.
Usually, corn pasta is suitable for individuals with gluten or wheat allergies – unless it contains wheat grains as well.
Egg Noodle Pasta
Egg noodle pastas are quite popular. However, the key to selecting healthy egg noodle pastas is to choose varieties that do not contain egg yolks. This feature will be listed on the product packaging. Usually, egg-yolk-free pasta will be priced somewhat higher than its whole-egg counterparts.
Semolina pasta is made is a popular choice, created from milled durum wheat or pulverized wheat grain. Although semolina pasta offers considerably less nutritional fiber than whole-grain pasta choices, it can contain plenty of great nutrients.
Seven-grain pasta choices may include any combination of whole grains. Popular seven-grain pasta ingredients include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, flax, millet, oats, rye, triticale and whole wheat.
Vegetable pastas offer appealing colors, flavors and nutrition to pasta dishes. Vegetable pasta varieties include artichoke pasta, beet pasta, spinach pasta, tomato pasta, rainbow pasta and more.
Careful consumers will read vegetable pasta ingredient lists carefully, however, as many so-called vegetable pastas or rainbow pastas may include only vegetable coloring and flavoring. The nutritional value of such pasta choices may be comparable to basic white pastas.
Perhaps the most popular healthy pasta choice is whole-wheat pasta. Made of durum wheat, whole-wheat pasta usually contains both bran and wheat germ, offering healthy antioxidants, fiber and minerals.
Whole wheat pastas tend to contain high levels of gluten, making these healthy pasta alternatives unsuitable for those who have gluten allergies or food sensitivities.
Couscous is a wheat-based pasta, although it resembles rice.
More Healthy Pasta Alternatives
Additional healthy pasta alternatives include kamut pasta, kasha pasta, quinoa pasta, soba pasta (Asian noodles), spelt pasta, sprouted-grain pasta and more.
Here’s the secret to selecting healthy pasta alternatives.
Health-conscious consumers are label readers in the supermarket and grocery store. Pastas with such ingredients as multi-grain, seven grain, whole grain or whole wheat are usually healthier than those simply listing flour as a primary ingredient.
In addition, the healthiest pasta alternatives will also have higher levels of important minerals and vitamins (such as folic acid, magnesium, potassium and selenium) listed in their nutritional charts.
Prepackaged pasta dinners and canned pasta choices generally include basic white pastas, rather than whole-grain healthy pasta choices.
Healthy pasta alternatives stay healthy with low fat pasta sauces.
Of course, health-conscious pasta cooks generally skip the fatty creamy pasta sauces, opting instead for marinara sauce, pesto sauce or a simple olive oil toss.