Nutrition Articles

7 Whole-Grain Pastas You've Never Tried

Expand Your Palate with New-to-You Noodles

Page 1 of 2
Pasta is such a versatile food, it’s no wonder it’s so popular. A survey conducted by the National Pasta Association found that 77% of Americans eat pasta at least once per week. Used as a side dish or main entree, eaten hot or cold, topped with a variety of different items, pasta is a great source of energy (carbohydrates) that helps power your mind through a tough day at work or school and your body though a challenging workout at the gym. You might have already made the switch to 100% whole-wheat pasta, but that's not the only variety of whole-grain pasta. Did you know that a wide variety of other whole-grain noodles are readily available in grocery stores these days?

Flours from other whole grains, such as brown rice, kamut, quinoa, buckwheat, corn and spelt, can all be used to make high-fiber, heart-healthy pastas, which each has its own flavor and nutritional profile. Being precise in cooking whole-grain pastas is important, as the texture can change greatly if you accidentally undercook or overcook them. This is especially true when cooking gluten-free pastas, as they tend to fall apart a bit more because they lack the sturdy protein, gluten, which helps bind pasta.

Here's an introduction to some of the most common whole-grain pastas you can find at the supermarket.

Buckwheat pasta
Buckwheat is technically a grass, not a grain. It’s gluten-free, so is wonderful for people with celiac disease. Buckwheat seeds are ground into a dark flour, which is used to make this pasta, also called "soba noodles." The noodles are a dark brown-gray color and have a nutty flavor. Some companies add wheat flour to ground buckwheat when making pasta, so be sure to check the label if you’re trying to avoid gluten. They're often used in Asian cooking.

Whole-wheat couscous
Couscous is a tiny, circular pasta from North Africa and the Middle East. It's becoming increasingly popular in America but is most often made with refined wheat flour. However, you can find whole-wheat couscous. Couscous is generally steamed or boiled in water and can be topped with stews, eaten plain, or flavored with various herbs and spices. It’s commonly stocked in the grains section of larger grocery stores.

Brown rice pasta
Made from ground whole brown rice, brown rice pasta is lighter in color than many whole-wheat varieties and mild in flavor. It is touted as having a smooth texture that is firm and is generally found in the gluten-free section of grocery stores or  health food stores. It has to be cooked slightly longer than wheat pastas but can be used just as you would any other pasta in hot dishes, salads, soups, casseroles or other dishes.

Kamut pasta
Kamut is a type of whole wheat. It contains gluten but is usually tolerated by those allergic to the common, crossbred versions of wheat. It has a richer, almost buttery flavor and can be found in many shapes, such as penne, spaghetti and fusilli.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • I'd love some info about vegetable pastas. - 7/16/2015 10:40:17 PM
  • Just a warning about the Dreamfields pasta someone mentioned below: http://www.dietdo
    asta-fraud - 3/20/2014 12:55:48 PM
  • Great article. Going to try some of these. - 8/13/2013 8:46:28 AM
  • I have had the brown rice and spelt pasta and they were both pretty good. Actually, it is all about the sauce. The right sauce could make cardboard taste good :) - 7/29/2013 7:29:20 PM
  • I am on Asa Andrews anti-inflammation diet due to lymph issues. I do not eat any wheat, but, am not totally gluten free. Some gluten foods do not cause inflammation and I can have them. I prefer rice pasta and use the brand Pasta Joy. My husband, who is a very picky eater, is slowly switching to some of the foods on my diet, and he like the Pasta Joy and The New Hope Brand of Gluten free Chia Seed Pancake and waffle mix. Thanks Spark for a article that helps with ideas for those of us that will not eat wheat - 3/25/2013 11:14:27 PM
  • TFAY511847
    I found this articule to have very good content. However, I was disappointed by the **misleading** SparkPeople "Subject Title" on my email (Whole-Grain Pastas That Aren't Wheat) which drew me in to reading it. Although the article & it's author are VERY informative, due to the subject title on the received SparkPeople email, I was expecting a focus on specific WHEAT FREE options ALONE. Yet, giving the benefit of the doubt, I suppose an uneducated person might, initially, think that spelt, kamut & couscous aren't actually wheat. - 3/25/2013 12:34:53 PM
    Very helpful article. However, the botanist in me would like to let people know that corn, wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, and oats are all grasses. Buckwheat is NOT a grass. Buckwheat also has a pretty strong flavor that many might not like. - 3/25/2013 12:24:33 PM
  • I have been trying to do Gluten free since I do have a food allergy to wheat. I really liked the corn noodles because they do not get soggy like some of the other grains. I did some research and have read information about GMO's and have read that corn, wheat and soy all are genetically modified. What grain is not a GMO? I am trying Almond and Coconut Flour right now on some recipes. - 3/25/2013 11:29:22 AM
    If you eat wheat and haven't found Dreamfield's pasta check it out. It is way lower in carbs. No idea why it is never advertised. Cooks and tastes EXACTLY the same as regular white posts. Great for cooking for a crowd without blowing your diet. - 3/25/2013 11:29:05 AM
    So which pasta is "better for you" and what are the nutritional values???? - 3/25/2013 10:57:25 AM
    Which whole grain pasta is pictured? - 3/25/2013 8:40:16 AM
  • Good to get this info out...but it seems like the author is the one who hasn't tried them. Rice pasta has a sticky consistency and is mushy and not that great. Corn pasta holds together great and I used it in my soup yesterday! I can get my family to eat some of my corn pasta (I'm the only gluten-intolerant one), but they'll skip the brown rice pasta! I agree that a taste dscription would have been helpful. - 3/25/2013 8:05:02 AM
  • awesome article. Love that you included info on it's gluten content and calories. As lately I have been trying to go GF, but have forgotten that Gluten free doen't mean calorie free. Thank you. - 3/25/2013 7:31:55 AM
  • Soba noodles are wonderful. They cook quickly. Throw them into broth and you've made your own ramen (minus the fried noodles). Add some chopped bok choy or pea pods and julienned ham or tofu and you have a meal in minutes. Yami! - 3/6/2013 11:52:14 AM
  • The "National Pasta Association"
    r some reason, that just made me giggle. I never would have thought there would have been a group out there like that.

    Seriously though, great article! I didn't realize there were so many kinds of whole wheat pastas! I'm definitely going to try some out. - 3/6/2013 9:22:15 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by August 6! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.