I received a great question from a fellow Hustler last night:
Martina Perry question for you... what is the best pasta to eat? I have an "intolerance" to wheat so avoid normal wheat flour pasta... I have spelt pasta at the moment but have had vegetable pasta, rice pasta etc.. but which is the best from a nutritional and health point of view?
Choosing pasta is no longer just about size and shape. We have more choice than ever.
Pasta offerings now include chickpeas, lentils, brown rice, quinoa and spelt pasta.
Non-flour pasta is, most certainly, enjoying its moment in the spotlight.
But all this extra choice is confusing.
So how do you choose? Which healthy and nutritious pasta alternatives are really better for you?
The short answer is this – there is no one size fits all. And it’s difficult to say one is better than the other. Largely, it depends on your personal preference and any dietary issues you may have.
Healthy And Nutritious Pasta Alternatives
Let’s take a look at the options:
Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole wheat pasta is higher in protein and fibre than their white pasta relatives. It is a superior source of crucial nutrients such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Whole wheat pasta has a delicious nutty flavour and is a satisfying, nourishing pasta.
Spelt is one of the oldest cultivated grains. It’s remarkably high in fibre and protein and is free of wheat. However, this doesn’t mean it’s gluten-free. Spelt is a close cousin to wheat and contains moderate amounts of gluten. People with mild gluten intolerances can often eat spelt pasta without too much stomach upset. Make sure you are purchasing whole grain spelt and not refined spelt.
Brown Rice Pasta
While brown rice pasta is not necessarily any more nutritious than the alternatives, it is a great alternative if you are gluten-free.
Quinoa flour contains more protein than any other flour you’ll find. It is rich in iron and magnesium and is gluten-free. It boasts a low glycaemic index, resulting in a slower rate of digestion (in plain English - you'll stay full longer and absorb more of the food's nutrients). Make sure your quinoa pasta is, in fact, quinoa pasta. The ingredient list should have one item – quinoa.
Also known as soba noodles, buckwheat noodles are a slow-releasing carbohydrate, meaning they're a source of good long-lasting energy. In addition, you can cut calories virtually in half when you switch from regular white pasta to soba noodles. They are both wheat and gluten free. Again, check the label – you’re looking for 100% buckwheat.
Bean and Legume Pasta
Legume-based pasta (such as chickpea, lentil and black bean) have some real nutritional benefits. They contain significantly more protein and fibre than traditional wheat pasta and have fewer carbohydrates. Most have a singular ingredient and are gluten-free (but always check the label).
Clear as mud…right?
There is a dizzying array of healthy and nutritious pasta alternatives to pick from. One claims higher fibre, another protein and yet another fast-burning carbohydrates. If you have no dietary issues, be sure to experiment and find a pasta that suits your tastes and dietary goals.
Each option discussed is a giant nutritional step up from your typical white pasta. So if you’re eating any of the above…you’re winning.
Co-Founder, Pepper Hustle
P.S. What are your favourite healthy and nutritious pasta alternatives?