Growing up, spaghetti night was a main staple in my household but these days pasta seems to be on a lot of “do not eat” lists for many diets. Granted, many pastas should be on these lists since they contain white flour that has been stripped of all its nutrients through the milling process, leaving you with a “quick-acting carb, not altogether that different from pure sugar, spiking your blood sugar and resulting in an insulin rollercoaster that sets you up for cravings, weight gain and Type 2 diabetes”, says registered dietitian, Jaime Mass, in a usnews.com article.
But this doesn’t mean that all pastas should get a bad rap. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel and are necessary to maintain proper cellular function. The type of carbohydrates and portion size are what matter most. So which ones should we reach for when shopping? Here’s a quick list but keep in mind that your nutritionist should be consulted if you have any allergies or sensitivities that need to be addressed.
- Whole Wheat – Whole-wheat pastas are a mainstay in the nutritional world, but their strong wheat flavor, chewy texture, and darker brown color can be an adjustment for some palates. Also be sure that it’s 100% whole wheat. Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving has an egg’s worth of protein and the fiber equivalent to a small banana. Best with: Strong ingredients, such as garlic and pesto.
- Asian Noodles – Available in all different thicknesses and varieties, Asian noodles are versatile in the kitchen, but flavors vary, depending on the grain they’re made from―rice, wheat, or buckwheat. Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving of soba noodles contains more fiber than a slice of whole-grain bread. However, rice, somen, and cellophane noodles contain little or no fiber. Best with: Soups, stir-frys, and peanut- or soy-based sauces.
- Spelt – Spelt is nuttier-tasting and higher in protein than regular pasta and is considered an “ancient grain” like quinoa. People with wheat allergies should be aware that spelt is closely related to wheat. Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving has as much protein as an ounce of meat, and all the fiber of a bowl of oatmeal. Best with: Strongly flavored sauces based on garlic and olive oil.
- Quinoa Pasta – Quinoa, like spelt, has a nutty taste and has a solid helping of daily fiber and protein. The texture is not far from regular pastas. Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving contains more protein than an egg and more fiber than a slice of whole wheat bread. Best with: Any of your favorite sauces, such as tomato.
Brown Rice – This pasta can be a favorite with kids with its subtle, nutty flavor and the light brown color make. Since it’s made from brown rice, it’s also great for people with allergies to wheat or gluten, the protein found in wheat. Avoid overcooking, since the texture can become mushy. Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving has as much fiber as a small apple. Best with: Chunky sauces and soups.
List courtesy in part by realsimple.com
So, let’s not write off pasta just yet! You do ,however, need to be vigilant in reading the labels and ingredients, as in most products. Some companies claim that their product is one thing (for example quinoa pasta), when it really only contains a small portion of that ingredient. However, with all the nutritious varieties available today, you should test some out for yourself and let spaghetti night live on!
Phone: (704) 549-9550