Here is an article from Berkeley Wellness Alerts on the ins and outs of Pasta. Enjoy!
Whole-grain foods have many health benefits. One good way to boost your intake is to switch to whole-grain pasta.
Whole-grain foods retain the bran and germ of the kernel and thus all the fiber and most nutrients. Studies suggest that they may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Because the fiber in whole grains makes you feel full longer, they may also help with weight control. In contrast, refined grains lose much of their fiber and nutrients during processing. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that at least half the grains we eat be whole grains. That’s at least three servings a day for someone eating 2,000 calories a day.
Regular pasta is made with semolina flour, which has been milled from durum wheat and is always refined flour. Once found only in health-food stores, healthier whole-grain pastas are now in mainstream markets. And with improved technology, many of them are less chewy and gummy than they used to be.
Whole-grain pasta is not limited to whole wheat. For instance, you can also find pastas made from spelt, quinoa, kamut, amaranth, and buckwheat (soba noodles)—a nice change of pace from regular pasta, and one that may be a boon for people with wheat allergies and/or gluten sensitivity. Some pastas combine different grains; a few contain flaxseeds, a source of plant omega-3 fats, though usually in small amounts.
Making the most of your pasta
• Look for “whole” at the top of the ingredient list. If all the grains listed are whole, the pasta is 100% whole grain. But some pastas that claim to be whole grain are blends of whole and refined grains, sometimes with oat or wheat fiber added to boost the fiber. One clue that wheat has been refined is the word “enriched” before “flour.”
• Compare fiber levels. Whole-grain pastas have about two to three times more fiber than regular pasta (4 to 7 grams versus 2 grams per 2-ounce uncooked serving). Some—spelt, quinoa, and brown rice pasta—have only 2 or 3 grams, though they are still better choices than regular pasta.
• Don’t assume that health-food brands and/or organic pastas are always whole-grain, even if their ingredients sound healthier. Health-food store pasta that says “100% durum semolina” or “golden amber durum wheat,” for instance, is made from refined wheat flour.
• Don’t assume that spinach and tomato pastas are whole grain, either. They usually contain only traces of vegetables for coloring. Unless they are made from whole grains, they are no different nutritionally from regular pastas.
• If you don’t like one brand, try another, since flavors and textures vary. The shape of the pasta can make a difference too. For a lighter texture, choose thin spaghetti, say, over penne or rotini, or try a whole-grain blend. And don’t overcook—it can get mushy fast. Check frequently while cooking. Whole-grain pastas often pair better with heartier sauces, like a chunky vegetable or bean sauce. © Copyright 2011 Berkeley Wellness Alerts. All rights Reserved.
The entire article may be viewed at http://www.berkeleywellnessalerts.com/alerts/healthy_eating/Whole-Grain-Pasta242-1.html