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The 10 Healthiest Foods: Whole Wheat Pasta

By: Caley Walsh

Switching to whole grain and multigrain pasta is easy and much better for you, as a panel of nutritionists for ABC suggested. You may even prefer the heartier taste of whole grain pasta. Learn about the health benefits of whole grain or multigrain pasta in this article and our best weeknight pasta recipe to try this healthier choice.

Tri Color Fusilli Pasta


As whole grains and multi-grains become the preferred choice for many Americans, more and more whole grain pastas are available at your local supermarket. These pastas have a darker, light-brown appearance instead of the golden yellow hue. The lightered-hued pastas, your standard pasta if whole grain or whole wheat is not specified, are made from refined grains.


Refined grains have their bran and germ removed by milling. Many pastas are made from enriched semolina flour, in which bran is removed during the milling process. Enriched refers to the process by which white flours have nutrients added back to compensate for the loss during processing. Many doctors and nutritionists believe that whole grains are still a better bet than enriched white flours.


Because the bran and germ are not removed from the grain, whole grain and multi-grain pastas are higher in fiber than refined grains and provide more nutrients. The higher fiber content helps you to feel full with less food. Many manufacturers are adding additional nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (a great source of protein) to their whole wheat pasta. Of course, this pasta will also have a denser, chewier texture and will require longer boiling times.


Here are some of the health benefits of whole grains:

  • Weight Management- Because of the higher fiber content, whole grains help you to feel fuller with less calories.
     
  • Cardiovascular Health- Consuming 2.5-3 servings of whole grains each day has been associated with a 21% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke.
     
  • Diabetes Prevention- Consuming 3 servings or more of whole grains daily has been associated with a 21-30% lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
     
  • Gum and Tooth Health- Whole grains have also been associated with healthy teeth and gums in recent studies.

 

Wholegrain Pasta Recipe: Whole Wheat Penne with Leeks and Mushrooms

You can easily substitute whole wheat spaghetti or another variety in this recipe. For flavor, sprinkle a small amount of Parmesan cheese on top.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 C. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 C. leeks, white and light green parts sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. lemon zest
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 12 oz. whole-wheat penne or other pasta
  • (optional) ¼ C. Parmesan

Directions

  1. Cook whole-wheat pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, but reserve about ½ C. of the cooking water.
  2. Heat olive oil in large skill over medium-high heat. Add leeks and a dash of salt. Stir until covered. Cover and cook until leeks are tender.
  3. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Add vegetable mixture to pasta mixture with retained cooking water. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Season with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Serve with freshly grated parmesan if you prefer.

 

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