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Healthier Pasta Choices

Essential information on the most popular varieties of alternative pastas.

By Maureen Callahan, R.D.
bowl of macaroniTina Rupp


Whole Wheat

What it brings to the table: Whole-wheat pastas are powerhouses in the nutritional arena (they can have about three times as much fiber as their plainer noodle cousins), but their strong wheat flavor, chewy texture, and darker brown color can be an adjustment for some palates.

Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving has an egg's worth of protein and the fiber equivalent of a small banana.

Best with: Strong ingredients, such as garlic and pesto.

Recommended brands: DeBoles, American Beauty.

Asian Noodles

What it brings to the table: Because they come in all different thicknesses and varieties, Asian noodles are versatile in the kitchen, but flavors vary, depending on the grain they're made from―rice, wheat, or buckwheat.

Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving of soba noodles contains more fiber than a slice of whole-grain bread. However, rice, somen, and cellophane noodles contain little or no fiber.

Best with: Soups, stir-frys, and peanut- or soy-based sauces.

Recommended brands: Dynasty, Eden, Banh Pho.


What it brings to the table: Spelt is nuttier-tasting and higher in protein than regular pasta. People with wheat allergies should be aware that spelt is closely related to wheat.

Nutritional bonus: A 2-ounce serving has as much protein as an ounce of meat, and all the fiber of a bowl of oatmeal.

Best with: Strongly flavored sauces based on garlic and olive oil.

Recommended brand: Vita Spelt.

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