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Nutrition Articles  ›  Meals and Food

7 Whole-Grain Pastas You've Never Tried

Expand Your Palate with New-to-You Noodles

-- By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian
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Quinoa pasta
Quinoa is the seed of a grass-like plant found in the Andes Mountains of South America. It is not technically a grain, but it is often referred to as a whole grain because it is nutritionally similar. It resembles couscous in size and shape but is ground into flour to make gluten-free pasta (often made with a blend of quinoa and corn flours). It’s superior to traditional white flour pasta in amounts of protein, iron and phosphorous and is considered a complete protein, which is important to vegetarians.

Spelt pasta
Spelt is a close relative of wheat but yields noodles with a deeper flavor. It combines well with olives, feta cheese and tomatoes for a Mediterranean-inspired dish. This niacin-rich ancient grain can help with heart health by lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Corn pasta
Pasta made from stone ground corn is yet another whole grain, gluten-free option when it comes to choosing noodles. It can range from white to yellow in color, depending on the type of corn used. This type of pasta can be a bit mushy, so it’s best to avoid using it in soups. Try combining it with spinach, peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes.


Use the table below to help you decide which types of whole-grain noodles will be best for you and your nutritional goals. Each brand and variety will have a different flavor, so you might want to experiment with a range of new-to-you whole grains.

Each of these values represents a single 2 oz serving of dry pasta (about 1 cup cooked). The fat content in all varieties is less than 1 gram per serving!

Type of Pasta Calories Carbs Fiber Protein *Gluten-Free?
Whole wheat 200 41 g 6 g 7 g No
Quinoa 205 46 g 4 g 4 g Yes
Buckwheat 200 43 g 3 g 6 g Yes
Spelt 190 41 g 4 g 8 g No
Brown rice 210 43 g 2 g 4 g Yes
Kamut 210 40 g 6 g 10 g No
Corn 203 45 g 6 g 4 g Yes

*Please note that foods that are naturally gluten-free can be contaminated during the manufacturing process. Always read labels and look for certified gluten-free products if gluten intolerance is an issue for you.

Sources
www.ilovepasta.org
www.whfoods.com

This article has been reviewed for accuracy and approved by licensed and registered dietitian, Becky Hand.
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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

  • Just a warning about the Dreamfields pasta someone mentioned below: http://www.dietdo
    ctor.com/the-
    dreamfields-p
    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
  • JESUSAN
    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
  • KITTENMOM2
    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
  • DANDRMALONE
    So which pasta is "better for you" and what are the nutritional values???? - 3/25/2013 10:57:25 AM
  • LISABUG64
    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"...fo
    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
  • Thanks for the info. I loved it and all I want to do is go make some flours and pasta from them. I hate buckwheat (so far in any form) but I am going to give that a try in some pasta making. - 3/6/2013 6:29:27 AM