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The 6 Best Types of Gluten-Free Pasta and Noodles

Health + Wellness
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By Rachael Link, MS, RD

For pasta lovers, going gluten-free may seem far more daunting than a simple diet modification.


Whether you're following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, a sensitivity to gluten or personal preference, you don't have to give up your favorite dishes.

Though traditional pasta is typically made using wheat flour, there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives available.

Here are 6 of the best types of gluten-free pasta and noodles.

1. Brown Rice Pasta

Brown rice pasta is one of the most popular varieties of gluten-free pasta due to its mild flavor and chewy texture — both of which work well as a substitute for most traditional pasta dishes.

Compared to most other types of pasta, brown rice pasta is a good source of fiber, with nearly three grams in a one-cup (195-gram) serving of cooked pasta (1 Trusted Source).

Brown rice is also high in important micronutrients like manganese, selenium and magnesium (2).

Plus, research shows that the bran found in brown rice is loaded with antioxidants, powerful compounds that can help fight oxidative damage to cells and promote better health (3 Trusted Source).

Some studies have found that eating brown rice can increase antioxidant levels in the blood and may aid in preventing chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease (4 Trusted Source, 5 Trusted Source).

Summary

Brown rice pasta is a good source of fiber, minerals and antioxidants that can optimize health and prevent chronic disease. Its mild flavor and chewy texture make it a great substitute for most traditional types of pasta.

2. Shirataki Noodles

Shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan, a type of fiber extracted from the root of the konjac plant.

Because the fiber passes through your intestine undigested, shirataki noodles are essentially free of calories and carbs.

They have a gelatinous texture and little to no taste but take on the flavors of other ingredients when cooked.

In addition, glucomannan fiber has been shown to increase weight loss and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger (6 Trusted Source, 7 Trusted Source).

Other studies have found that supplementing with glucomannan can reduce cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar and treat constipation (8 Trusted Source, 9 Trusted Source, 10 Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that shirataki noodles contribute almost no calories or nutrients to your diet.

For this reason, it's especially important to load up on healthy toppings for your pasta, such as heart-healthy fats, veggies and protein.

Summary

Shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that's calorie-free and can help promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar and relieve constipation.

3. Chickpea Pasta

Chickpea pasta is a newer type of gluten-free pasta that has recently garnered a good deal of attention among health-conscious consumers.

It's very similar to regular pasta but with a hint of chickpea flavor and a slightly more chewy texture.

It's also a high-protein, high-fiber alternative, packing about 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber into each two-ounce (57-gram) serving (11 Trusted Source).

Protein and fiber have a filling effect and can help reduce your calorie intake throughout the day to aid weight control (12 Trusted Source, 13 Trusted Source, 14 Trusted Source).

In fact, one small study in 12 women found that eating one cup (200 grams) of chickpeas before a meal helped reduce blood sugar levels, appetite and calorie consumption later in the day, compared to a control meal (15 Trusted Source).

What's more, research shows that chickpeas can improve bowel function, reduce cholesterol levels and enhance blood sugar control (16 Trusted Source, 17 Trusted Source).

Summary

Chickpea pasta is high in protein and fiber, which may aid weight control and help improve bowel function, cholesterol levels and blood sugar management.

4. Quinoa Pasta

Quinoa pasta is a gluten-free substitute for regular pasta that's typically made from quinoablended with other grains, such as corn and rice. It's often described as having a slightly grainy texture with a nutty flavor.

Its main ingredient, quinoa, is a popular whole grain favored for its rich nutrient profile, mild flavor and extensive health benefits.

As one of the few plant-based complete proteins available, quinoa delivers a hearty dose of all nine essential amino acids that your body needs (18 Trusted Source).

Quinoa is also a good source of several other important vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper and iron (19).

Plus, quinoa pasta is rich in fiber, providing about 3 grams of fiber in each 1/4-cup (43-gram) serving of dry pasta (20 Trusted Source).

Studies show that fiber can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestive health and promote feelings of fullness to prevent weight gain (21 Trusted Source, 22 Trusted Source, 23 Trusted Source).

Summary

Quinoa pasta is made from quinoa and other grains, such as corn and rice. It's a good source of protein, fiber and micronutrients and may be beneficial for digestive health, blood sugar control and weight maintenance.

5. Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are a type of pasta made from buckwheat flour, a plant commonly cultivated for its nutritious grain-like seeds.

They have a nutty taste with a chewy, grainy texture and are available in many different shapes and sizes.

Soba noodles are lower in calories than many types of traditional pasta but still supply a good amount of protein and fiber.

A two-ounce (56-gram) serving of cooked soba noodles contains about 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and a good amount of several important micronutrients like manganese and thiamine (24 Trusted Source, 25).

Studies show that eating buckwheat may be associated with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight regulation (26 Trusted Source, 27 Trusted Source).

Soba noodles also have a lower glycemic index than other starches, meaning that eating soba noodles won't increase your blood sugar levels as much (28 Trusted Source).

However, note that some manufacturers combine buckwheat flour with other types of flour when producing this type of noodles.

Be sure to check the ingredients label carefully and avoid any products that contain wheat flour or white flour if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.

Summary

Soba noodles are a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour. Eating buckwheat has been linked to improved heart health, weight regulation and blood sugar levels.

6. Multigrain Pasta

Many types of gluten-free pasta are made using a blend of different grains, including corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and amaranth.

The nutritional value of these pasta varieties can vary significantly based on what types of grains are used. They may contain anywhere between 4–9 grams of protein and 1–6 grams of fiber per 2-ounce (57-gram) serving (29 Trusted Source, 30 Trusted Source, 31 Trusted Source).

For the most part, multigrain pasta can be a good alternative to regular pasta for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.

Multigrain pasta is also often closer in taste and texture to traditional pasta. Just a simple swap can make all your favorite recipes gluten-free.

However, it's important to pay close attention to the ingredients label and steer clear of products loaded with fillers, additives and gluten-containing ingredients.

Summary

Multigrain pasta is made from grains like corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and amaranth. It's often a close match for regular pasta in terms of taste and texture, but the nutrient profile can vary based on its ingredients.

The Bottom Line

Though pasta may have once been considered completely off the table for those on a gluten-free diet, there are now plenty of options available.

Be sure to opt for products that are certified gluten-free and double check the ingredients label to avoid cross-contamination and adverse side effects.

Additionally, keep intake in moderation and pair your pasta with other nutritious ingredients to maximize potential health benefits and maintain a well-rounded diet.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

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The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

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