As a pantry staple, one of the easiest ways to get more whole grain into your diet is to try the growing number of pastas made with whole grains beyond the traditional durum semolina. Thankfully, the days of cardboard-tasting non-wheat pastas are well behind us!
Top 5 Non-Wheat Pastas
- Gluten-free: YesTinkyada and Jovial Foods offer gluten-free brown rice pasta. Tinkyada pasta contains 1 to 2 g of fiber and 4 g of protein per serving. Jovial’s brown rice pasta provides 2 g fiber and 5 g protein per serving.
- Nutritional highlights: Brown rice pastas are good sources of some of the B vitamins. Of all the whole grain pasta products we looked at, brown rice pastas contain the least amount of fiber.
- Gluten-free: Yes**Buckwheat itself is gluten-free. There are, however, buckwheat pasta products that blend buckwheat with another type of wheat (such as kamut or spelt), so not all of them are gluten-free. An Australian company, OrgraN, specializes in gluten-free whole grain products including buckwheat pasta.
- Nutritional highlights: EdenFoods’ buckwheat-blend pastas provide 4 to 6 g fiber and 6 to 9 g protein per serving, and are good sources of some B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. OrgraN buckwheat pasta offers 3 g fiber and 8 g protein per serving. Buckwheat contains the flavonoid rutin, which has antioxidant properties and benefits the cardiovascular system.
- Gluten-free: NoJovial Foods makes pasta from einkorn wheat, which is considered one of the original species of wheat that was domesticated from the wild. Over time, einkorn cultivation declined because other higher-yielding wheat varieties were discovered. Because einkorn is a species of wheat, it is not gluten free.
- Nutritional highlights: The whole grain einkorn pasta from Jovial provides 4 g fiber in a serving, and is also quite high in protein (8 to 9 g per serving). It is also high in the B vitamins and the minerals manganese, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Interestingly, a 2008 Turkish study found einkorn wheat to be high in lutein, a carotenoid found in egg yolk that is protective against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
- Gluten-free: Yes**The quinoa pasta products from Ancient Harvest are gluten-free because they are made with a blend of corn and quinoa flours. Some pasta products, like those from Eden Foods, are not gluten-free because they are made from quinoa blended with wheat (kamut).
- Nutritional highlights: Ancient Harvest products clock in at 2.5 g fiber and 4 g protein per serving. Considering that quinoa on its own is a high-fiber and high-protein grain, this suggests the blend contains more corn flour than quinoa. Eden Foods’ quinoa and kamut pasta contains 5 g fiber and 8 g protein per serving.
- Gluten-free: NoPurity Foods makes a line of spelt pasta products called VitaSpelt. Eden Foods also offers a variety of spelt pastas. Spelt is considered to be one of the more ancient lines of wheat cultivated in the early days of civilization. Because it is wheat, it is not gluten-free.
- Nutritional highlights: The whole grain VitaSpelt spaghetti offers 5 g fiber and 8 g protein per serving. Eden Foods’ organic spelt spaghetti provides 5 g fiber and 7 g protein per serving. Spelt also contains good amounts of the minerals magnesium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus as well as some of the B vitamins.
All nutritional highlights are based on a two-ounce serving unless otherwise specified.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, non-wheat pastas are not all created equal. Although whole grain flours are used to make these pastas, consuming a variety of whole grains in their whole (non-pasta) form is still preferable. However, for those days when you do crave pasta, it helps to be prepared with whole grain versions.