Pasta has a gotten a bad rap, especially when it comes to managing diabetes. The pasta that most people eat is made with refined flour and contains a high amount of carbohydrate. One serving of pasta, one-third of cup, contains 15 grams of carb. But most people eat more than one-third of a cup! Luckily, thanks to healthier options, you can still enjoy pasta as part of your diabetes eating plan. Just remember to keep an eye on portion size!
- Whole-wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is made from whole wheat flour. And whole-wheat flour includes the nutrient-rich bran and germ of the wheat. This pasta is higher in protein and fiber than regular (white) wheat pasta. Make sure to choose a pasta that’s made with 100% whole wheat. Keep in mind that whole-wheat pasta does contain gluten.
- High-fiber pasta. If you’re not a fan of whole-wheat pasta but want more fiber, try a high fiber pasta, such as Barilla White Fiber pasta. It’s not a whole grain pasta, but it does pack three times more fiber per serving than regular white pasta.
- Rice pasta. Rice pasta can be made from white or brown rice. It’s a good choice for people who have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or other digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. Rice pasta tends to absorb a lot of water when cooking, which means it can turn mushy if you boil it for too long.
- Quinoa pasta. Quinoa is a high protein grain-substitute that can be made into flour and used to make bread as well as pasta. Besides being high in protein, quinoa pasta is rich in iron and magnesium. You might find that eating quinoa pasta makes it easier to manage your blood sugars compared to eating regular pasta. And, quinoa pasta is gluten-free. Some quinoa pastas are made with added rice or corn, so check the label; the only ingredient listed should be quinoa.
- Buckwheat noodles. Also known as soba noodles, buckwheat noodles are commonly used in Asian dishes. These noodles, which have a nutty flavor, can be served hot or cold. They’re gluten-free and tend to be lower in calories and carbs than other types of pasta. As with rice noodles, keep a close watch on the cooking time, as they can quickly become overly soft.
- Spelt pasta. Spelt is considered to be an ancient grain and it’s a close cousin of wheat. However, although it’s wheat-free, it does contain gluten. Spelt pasta contains more fiber and protein than regular wheat pasta, and it has a nuttier flavor than white pasta. Look for whole-grain spelt pasta; some varieties are made with refined spelt flour.
- Bean pasta. Beans are a superstar food – they’re rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and thanks to their low glycemic index, beans can make it easier to manage blood sugar levels. Bean (or legume) pasta can be made from different varieties of beans, such as chick peas, black beans or lentils. These pastas are usually gluten-free (but double-check the ingredients) and have more fiber and protein than regular pasta.
What about those vegetable-flavored pastas, like spinach pasta? These are basically wheat pastas colored by a small amount of vegetable. While they look pretty, they don’t provide any significant nutritional benefit over regular pasta. Also, some brands might even contain food coloring to make the color more vibrant.