The marketplace has seen an increase in pasta products made from seemingly more nutritious ingredients, such as whole wheat, legumes, or brown rice. But are these products really better (or even good) for health?
Pasta Basics: Traditionally, pasta is made from milled durum wheat. Processing of the wheat to make refined flour removes the bran and germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm. This process strips away most of the fiber as well as vitamins like niacin. In the U.S., the major vitamins found in whole wheat (niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine) as well as folate and the mineral iron must be added to all refined white flours.
When wheat-based flour is kneaded with water, a gluten protein matrix forms around the starch particles and the dough becomes strong and stretchy. “This matrix may lead to slower digestion of the starch particles and slower release of glucose, and it may help you to feel fuller,” says Nicola M. McKeown, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.