From chickpea elbows to lentil lasagne, these low-carb pastas are made from ingredients you’ll feel good about eating.
Let’s be clear: Carbs aren’t the enemy. Whole grains like oats, barley, and rye are packed with critical nutrients, from digestion-friendly fiber to zinc, iron, magnesium, and folate. Plus, carbs provide energy, and give our brains, red blood cells, and central nervous systems the fuel they need to function.
But not all carbs are created equal. According to Leah Silberman, RDN, nutritionist and founder of Tovita Nutrition, refined carbohydrates (which lack the bran and germ portions of the grain kernel) are totally void of fiber: “They’ve been processed so they are stripped of any nutritional value,” says Silberman. “You’re getting the carbs, but no nutrition.”
Of course, a cookie here and some toast there won’t kill you, but if you opt for refined grains (think white pasta) often, it may be worth swapping in sneaky alternatives that taste great and offer health benefits too. The good news? Innovative brands are making it easier than ever to eat noodles and keep simple carbs to a minimum by using better-for-you ingredients in place of wheat. From lentil spaghetti to mushroom noodles, these new low-carb pastas are higher in protein and a whole lot healthier than your classic penne.
When it comes to picking a low-carb pasta, Silberman says to mind the ingredient list. “I look at the ingredients first,” she tells Health. “Ideally there are only one to two ingredients in the pasta, like chickpeas or green lentil flour.”
Silberman also considers the nutrition facts. “Unlike regular pasta, these pastas can provide a lot of fiber, so I personally like to see at least six grams of fiber per serving when I choose an alternative pasta,” she says.
Below, eight low-carb pastas that provide more protein and fiber than your average bowties.
Explore Cuisine Edamame Spaghetti
“I love Explore Cuisine’s organic edamame spaghetti that has 13 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein per serving, and only ingredient: organic edamame bean flour,” says Silberman. “I use these to make an Asian-inspired dish. I saute kale and mushrooms in a pot with rice vinegar and soy sauce and sesame seeds, then combine it all with the edamame spaghetti.” Yum.
Barilla Red Lentil Penne
Capello’s Almond Flour Fettuccine
Explore Cuisine Green Lentil Lasagne
Tolerant Black Bean Rotini
Banza Chickpea Elbows
Miracle Noodle Shirataki Angel Hair
If you’re set on a low-calorie, zero-carb pasta, these noodles made from the Japanese konjac plant are for you. Just don’t be surprised if you’re hungry ten minutes after eating them, since they’re 97% water. “You have to add so much to these in order for them to fill you up,” notes Silberman.