Types of Pasta: Alternative Grains to Wheat Pasta

Are you looking for a healthier pasta?  There are alternative grain pastas that have a lot to offer.  Often, pasta gets a bum rap; with dieters and carbohydrate haters sullying its reputation. Luckily with many whole grain and gluten free pasta varieties available today, the comfort and nutrition of pasta can, again, appeal to the masses.

Consuming whole grains has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Choosing whole grain pasta is a delicious and easy way to include more vitamins and minerals and almost twice the amount of fiber that is offered by regular wheat pasta.  The key to finding the types of pasta that speak to your taste buds is to experiment!

Types of Pasta:

Whole Wheat Flour Pasta

When wheat is milled to make flour, parts of the grain are separated during the milling process; and then recombined to create different varieties of flour. Whole wheat flour is a nutritious alternative to white flour because it provides dietary fiber not found in the latter. Some are even enriched with riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. However, some whole wheat flours have the majority of the germ removed; so whole wheat may not necessarily mean whole grain- read the label carefully as due diligence is required.

Spelt Pasta

An ancient grain with a nutty flavor, spelt flour can easily be swapped for wheat flour in pasta and other baked treats. For those with wheat intolerances, spelt flour is reportedly easier to digest; however, spelt flour does contain gluten, and is therefore not recommended for those with gluten allergies. The water solubility of spelt is higher than that of wheat, which allows for more efficient nutrient synthesis. This powerhouse is a great source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and manganese.

Farro Pasta

This is the oldest cultivated grain in the world; and was first domesticated in the Middle East. This grain is nutty like its spelt counterpart. It is high in protein, fiber and magnesium.

Quinoa Pasta

Always a crowd favorite in its seed form; it also makes for a very healthy pasta. Quinoa is renowned for being an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, iron and riboflavin; but it is also a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.

Flaxseed Pasta

Flaxseed, like Quinoa, is a nutrition powerhouse. In pasta, flax is generally mixed with whole grain flour in order to create pasta that stands up to cooking. This seed is one of the richest plant sources of omega3 fatty acids and they are incredibly high in fiber, magnesium, thiamine and phosphorus.

Brown Rice Pasta

This is a wholesome and nutritious gluten free alternative; and is readily available in most grocery stores. It is less processed than white flour and therefore contains more nutrients. An excellent source of manganese and selenium, brown rice has almost four times the amount of insoluble fiber than white rice.

Buckwheat Pasta

Grown the world over, buckwheat creates tender and chewy pasta; another common name for them is the Japanese derived variety known as soba noodles. Buckwheat is gluten free; but buyers beware, it is often mixed with potato, rice or wheat flour in order to make pasta. Due to its elevated level of manganese, buckwheat noodles may help metabolize cholesterol.

So you see, regardless of whether you are gluten intolerant or simply trying to avoid the post pasta slump, there really is are pasta varieties for everyone!

Guest post by Bianca Osbourne, who is a professionally trained natural foods chef, recipe developer and freelance writer.  She created healthy recipes on her website Vitality Guide For Women, where she focuses on presenting healthy eating in down to earth and flavorful style.

Photo credit: backtoherroots.com via Colleen on Pinterest