Pasta - False assumption!

  • Wow do I feel humble now. I had for years made a false assumption about pasta. I was looking at the label on a box of "normal" pasta, which I rarely buy, and noticed it had more protein than I thought it did. (7 g per serving.) I thought I was making better choices by buying whole wheat pasta or brown rice pasta but not necessarily? I guess I thought that just because traditional pasta was white, that it was like regular white flour which is pretty useless. So I got on FitDay and looked up different kinds of flours. Turns out semolina flour (which normal pasta is made from) has 21 grams of protein per cup, more than white flour (13 grams per cup) brown rice flour (11 grams per cup -- brown rice flour has less protein than plain old white flour!!!???) and whole wheat flour (16 grams per cup). I am in shock. The whole grain flours do contain more fiber, but I am really surprised about the protein in semolina.
  • Wheat and wheat flours vary a lot in their protein content. The proteins form gluten and that makes the difference in a light and crumbly cake and a chewy French bread or hearty pasta.

    There is a lot more to nutrition than protein content though. Fiber of course, but whole grains give you a lot more naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than refined, then enriched flours. In the grand scheme of things, whole grain products are probably more nutritious overall.

    Having said that, pasta is the one grain product that I just prefer as a refined white flour product. In this case refined durum wheat flour.

  • Quote:
    Fiber of course, but whole grains give you a lot more naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than refined, then enriched flours.
    Exactly. Why would you want to toss out the naturally occurring good stuff and "replace" it with processed version? To me that just seems like a waste.

    Whole grains are better because they have the bran and germ instead of just the endosperm of processed grains.

    The endosperm – this is the main source of energy;
    The bran – this includes vitamins, minerals and is where you will find the fibre;
    The germ – there is more vitamins and minerals in this part.
    As for brown rice pasta, this is good if you want to avoid gluten. A lot of people have allergies to gluten and therefore need to eat brown rice pasta instead. Otherwise, I do not know that it is a healthier choice then whole grains in terms of vitamins and minerals. Perhaps someone can let us know? The same goes for rice milk vs soy milk. Again though some people are sensitive to soy so that would be best for them.

    What is sortta weird is that when I checked this article below the nutrient information was different.
    From Nuts over Noodles

    Semolina, 1/2 cup cooked: 95 calories, 3 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrate, 0.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber

    Whole wheat 1/2 cup cooked: 87 calories, 3.5 grams protein, 18.5 grams carbohydrate, 0.4 grams fat, 3 grams fiber
  • I've always been kind of confused about the whites, wheats, pastas, potatoes, an breads. LOL the other day at the store I stood at he bread isle for about 15 min w/3 different kinds of bread comparing the serving size, calories, fat, fiber, and protein. I finally put them all back because they were all similar in all aspects and I realized although the wheat bread was being advertised as "all natural" etc etc it wasn't the real deal. I'd like to do some more research on pastas and breads and start getting better whole grain options. If anyone has any suggestions for brand names and types I'm all ears!
  • spinymouse -- I don't think I realized that "white pasta" had that much protein either! however, I have learned some of what Anne and templebody are talking about -- using more whole grains to get other benefits.

    Cristy -- I know what you mean about bread! We do still eat some breads from the store, but when I want something less processed I buy my bread from Great Harvest. I think it's the Nine Grain. It is delicious and doesn't seem to have all the fillers. I have to promptly freeze it, however, or it disappears much too quickly!!!
  • I love the barilla plus pasta. Its refined white pasta with some lentils and other stuff in it so it has the taste and texture of white and more protein and fiber than whole wheat

    I dont mind ww pasta, but dh doesnt like it.
  • Yes, we eat barilla plus, too!
  • Another Barilla user here. I do wish it came in more "shapes" though. At least here we get only 4: regular spaghetti, angel hair, penne and rotini. We tend to use a lot of elbows, seashells and I like bowtie occasionally.

    It's very hard to find real whole grain bread here in our little town. We get one bakery out of Anchorage that sells here - for $4.29/loaf! There is a Great Harvest in Anchorage, and I try to get there when I can, buy several loaves and freeze them. I make my own bread, which at least is less processed. Don't grind my own grain though. I do get either King Arthur or Bob's flour, and usually do a mix of white and whole wheat as DH has digestive problems and has trouble if there's too much whole wheat.
  • Pat -- We get Barilla plus elbows. They are common down here. But other than the shapes you mentioned, I don't recall any others.

    There are certainly challenges to living in Alaska -- how far north/from Anchorage are you??
  • The package really needs to say 100% whole grain or you can just look at the ingredients. I try top buy breads with the least amount of ingredients. I don't like much sugar or salt in my bread.

    I usually by sprouted bread (in the fridge/freezer section). Actually right now I'm eating my breakfast - two slices of Ezekiel bread with peanut butter. I buy the raisin one that has a better flavour. The ingredients are very straightforward sprouted wheat, raisins, sprouted grains (barley, millet), sprouted lentils soybeans and spelt, water, yeast, sea salt and cinnamon. They also make a tortilla and other types of breads (buns, English muffins, etc). It is not made with flour at all.

    But you don't have to get all fancy with the bread just read the ingredients and the nutrition facts. I look at the fiber, sodium, sugars, and protein and calories last.

    As for the pasta, I'm at a point where I no longer taste the difference. I once cooked it a couple years ago and just tossed it. Now we only by whole grain pasta. We buy Healthy Harvest pasta or another organic brand that I can't remember the name of it (the packaging is very simple). I think the secret behind whole grain pasta and brown rice too is that it is some what difficult to cook right. The water has to be boiling rapidly before you add it and then you sort ta have to watch it like a hawk. It can become pretty yucky if it is overcooked or undercooked. You might just have to give it time too.
  • Heather, we're about 45 miles NE of Anchorage, close enough that many people commute to Anchorage for work (as I did for 20+ years, and am thrilled with the last 8 which I have worked only 3 miles from home ). It's a 50-60 minute commute in good weather, which can stretch to over 3 if there's an accident/bad weather. There is no "alternative" route - just one 4 lane road.