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If you’re like me, you grew up eating and enjoying a lot of pasta, usually of the white variety — in spaghetti, layered lasagnas and simply buttered with herbs. Only later did you learn about the darker, whole wheat kind, which is much healthier.

Well, this might surprise you, too: There are other whole grain pasta options — many are healthier than whole wheat — and they can be as tasty (or tastier) than pasta.

If you’re gluten free, you’ll be happy to hear there are several gluten-free, whole-grain pastas.

And even if you’ve heard of some of these, have you tried them? (Quick-and-easy product picks below.)

When I switched to a plant-based diet, I, too, ate a lot of pasta, but this way you don’t have to feel bad about it. These options add variety and nutrition to your meals, and aren’t hard to make, although they can take a little longer.

7 Healthy whole grain pastas to try

One-hundred percent whole grains are worlds better for you than the refined, white kind; they have been shown to help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and help you maintain a healthy weight. And whole wheat is healthier than white, multi-grain (with refined flours) or wheat (without the whole,) but here are seven other good pasta options:

  • Spelt pasta. This cousin to wheat is more nutritious, with double the fiber. Many people who have trouble with wheat can eat it, and it’s “particularly helpful” for people with migraines, atherosclerosis and diabetes. The taste will likely be nuttier than wheat.

  • Kamut pasta. Another ancient grain and type of wheat, kamut has a high protein count and more nutrients than wheat, with a sweet, slightly nutty taste.

  • Brown rice pasta. Contains high-quality protein. Some people think whole wheat pasta is too thick, but brown rice pasta is lighter. Usually GF.
  • Soba noodles. These are made with at least 30 percent buckwheat, which is actually a seed but cooks like a grain. The remaining percentage is usually wheat. Buckwheat won’t spike blood sugar levels but will boost the protein power of other beans and grains you ate that day (which is great for vegans!). These have a nutty flavor. GF if no wheat is added.
  • Corn pasta. Corn is high in antioxidants and fiber. For the healthiest option, look for products made from fibrous corn meal, not corn flour. Usually has a gentle and slightly sweet taste. GF.
  • Quinoa pasta. Quinoa pasta is good for diabetics, vegans and vegetarians. Look for products without corn, which diminishes the protein value. GF.
  • Seven grain pasta. These have a combo of whole grains, like barley, brown rice, buckwheat , corn, oats and whole wheat.

Even better, look for sprouted grain pastas, which have even more nutritional value. (Read why sprouted grains are so great.)

If you (or those you’re cooking for) aren’t willing to jump 100-percent into whole grains, you can also find blends of whole wheat and refined flours. Try out these first or make half whole and half refined pastas, and then experiment with going whole grain all the way.

Product picks for good, healthy, whole grain pasta

If you’re looking for healthy, whole grain pasta, Eden Foods makes some great products, including 100-Percent Whole Grain Kamut & Quinoa Twisted Pair; 100-Percent Buckwheat Soba; Kamut Udon Noodles and Whole grain spelt ribbons.
And for sprouted, whole grain products, check out Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Penne or Essential Eating Sprouted Grain Elbow. And here’s a review of Essential Eating products.
Photo Source: Jordan/Flickr