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Sharp Health News

White vs. wheat pasta (infographic)

May 30, 2017

With 600 pasta shapes worldwide, it's easy to find your favorite. But health-wise, typical white pasta is stripped of many important nutrients. That's why Ursula Ridens, a registered dietitian at Sharp HealthCare's Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Program and certified intuitive eating counselor, suggests eating whole-grain pasta. Its texture is chewier, but its nutritional benefits are far greater.

White vs. wheat pasta (infographic). White vs. wheat pasta. The average American eats 16 pounds of pasta per year. That’s a lot of spaghetti Bolognese! But health-wise, is there a difference between white and whole wheat? We asked Sharp dietitian Ursula Ridens to explain the differences. White pasta is made with refined grains, meaning the bran and germ are removed. Wheat pasta is made with whole grain, meaning the bran, germ and endosperm are intact. White pasta has a finer texture and improved shelf life. Wheat pasta has three times as much fiber and five times as much insoluble fiber. White pasta has less fiber, and some nutrients (like iron and vitamin B) are lost in refinement. Wheat pasta has a grainy, chewier texture. While wheat’s texture can take getting used to, the high fiber and nutrition retention make it a clear winner. In fact, as a high-fiber food, whole wheat pasta can help improve digestion, ward off digestive disease, help you feel satisfied longer and reduce your cancer risk. If wheat pasta isn’t your thing, there are four awesome alternatives. Pastas made from the whole grains spelt, buckwheat, quinoa and kamut are also good sources of fiber. It may sound silly, but when talking to patients, I often call myself a fiber fan, says Ursula Ridens, RDN, a registered dietician at Sharp HealthCare’s Outpatient Nutrition Counseling Program. There are just so many benefits of fiber that I feel eating more plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies is one of the most important changes we can make to our eating.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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