Pasta is one of the most popular dishes around the world and basically Italy’s national dish besides pizza.
Traditional Italian pasta is made from wheat flour with water or eggs and therefore has a very light color which isn’t unhealthy per se but “normal“ pasta mainly contains simple carbohydrates, a low amount of complex carbohydrates and very little dietary fiber.
Simple carbohydrates elevate the blood sugar level very quickly which leads to high amounts of insulin secretion – an enzyme produced by the pancreas that decreases the blood glucose concentration by inducing the intake of glucose into the cells. Those rapid changes in blood glucose levels can lead to a “rebound“ phenomenon, meaning that you get hungry again after a short period of time.
Today there are a lot of new pasta kinds especially since the low carbohydrate trend is around – many substitutions for the original pasta are now available everywhere. As I have explained in this article I am not a fan of a low carb diet, so finding alternatives is about the nutritional value (amount of vitamins, fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates) and NOT carbohydrate percentage!
Whole Grain / Spelt Pasta
Whole grain or spelt pasta is made out of darker grains than wheat pasta (like whole wheat or spelt) which gives the pasta a brown colour.
These kinds of pasta usually contain more complex carbohydrates and also have a stronger taste to them. Complex carbohydrates prevent the blood sugar spikes described above. The taste is something personal, if you are used to the wheat pasta it might take a while to adjust your taste buds as these pasta kinds have a rather nutty taste – which I personally really enjoy. Furthermore they contain higher amounts of dietary fiber, a very valuable ingredient of food!
Legume, quinoa and brown rice Pasta
A rather resent trend is making pasta out of legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas peas), quinoa or brown rice. As legumes are super healthy it’s not surprising that lentil pasta is a very healthy choice: it’s super rich in proteins (around 20g per 100 g uncooked pasta), complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
The colors of the different legume pastas are super fun but the texture is a bit different and to be honest not always great. I can really recommend red lentil pasta, texture and taste wise.
Zoodle (vegetable pasta)
A very interesting way is turning fresh, uncooked vegetables into pasta. Using a Spiralizer vegetables like zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes or potatoes are spiralized into pasta. This is definitely the healthiest way to enjoy a pasta dish – packed with vitamins!
Here I share my favorite zucchini pasta recipe with a vegan bolognese sauce.