Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Whole wheat pastas -- how do they compare?

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When whole wheat pastas started showing up on grocery store shelves a few years ago, I took the leap. Actually, it was more like a small step, since I started with a whole wheat blend pasta. I cooked it up with some spaghetti and we hardly noticed the difference. When the true 100% whole wheat brands came along a few months later, I bit the bullet again and served whole wheat lasagna for dinner. I'm not going to say the taste is for everyone, but in our house the transition was a cinch and we enjoy the hardier, nuttier taste of whole wheat pasta over white.

There are a lot of reasons to love whole wheat pasta: more fiber, more nutrition, and you don't have to avoid it completely when you're trying to lose weight. That said, there are going to be some of you who try it and simply can't get used to the taste. Luckily, there are options, even for the most hard core white flour pasta fans. This article from WebMD compares some of the more popular brands of healthy pastas, including Barilla Plus. This enriched pasta isn't entirely whole wheat, but it comes with added fiber, protein, and omega-3s that boost it's nutritional content AND it tastes very close to traditional pasta. Another option is pasta made from spelt, which is an ancient variety of grain similar to wheat. Though it contains gluten, it appears to be easier to digest for many people than wheat.

The USDA recommends you make at least half your grains whole, but I say why stop there? If you love the taste of whole grain pasta, breads, and cereals, then try to make as many of them whole as possible!

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