If you don’t like the wheat, get out of the kitchen. Some people endorse whole-wheat pasta with their whole soul.
Choosing pasta is no longer just about the size and shape. Whether it’s fettuccini, rotini, or good ol’ macaroni, white vs. wheat is the latest supermarket quandary (right along with paper vs. plastic and making yodelling supermarket kid the CEO vs. permanently banning him from the store in case he finds a tannoy system. (We’re in favor of the CEO option, for the record).
So is choosing whole wheat worth it? We give you the complete, unrefined breakdown on whether whole wheat is the total package.
The main difference between white and whole-wheat pasta lies in the processing.
Whole wheat contains three parts of the grain:
- the bran, which is the grain’s bomber jacket, covering the outside
- the germ, which is the grain’s high-top fade, sprouting from the seed
- the endosperm, which is the large, starchy center of the grain
But during the refining process, the heat is on. This heat forces the nutrient-rich bran and germ out of the grain, leaving just the endosperm behind.
If you prefer whole-wheat rice to pasta, stop reading here and head to this article for preparation advice.
While the stripped-down white stuff boasts a longer shelf life, not to mention a cheaper price tag, it doesn’t pack as hefty a nutritional punch as its whole-grain cousins.
Learn about other nutritious grains to fill your face and belly.
A 2019 review of studies found that people who ate more whole-grain foods had a lower risk of weight gain. Which means one point to whole wheat. Keep up, refined grains.
Read more about the benefits of whole grain magic here.
Even though refined grains a somewhat tainted reputation next to its whole wheat pals, a 2019 review on refined grains found that eating up to 6 or 7 30-gram servings isn’t likely to increase the risk of heart problems, diabetes, or dying in general.
This will provide some relief when you’re tucking into your next PB&J masterpiece (we won’t tell anyone you still cut the crusts off).
However, whole wheat products are the reigning champions when it comes to protecting yourself from heart problems, diabetes, and the overall risk of dying.
Opting for whole wheat ensures the most nutritional benefits, including:
- vitamin E found in the bran and germ
- major B vitamins
- fiber (which can make your poops glorious and delay your hunger)
- healthy fats
The Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) advises that 50 percent of a person’s grain intake every day should be whole wheat and proud.
For anyone over the age of 9 years, this means eating three to five servings. Examples of a serving include a small muffin or slice of bread. Half a cup of cooked pasta or 1 ounce of dry pasta also act as a single serving.
While whole wheat is generally the way to go for unlimited nutritional dopeness, refined grains aren’t going to hurt you in moderate amounts.
Refine your knowledge on refined grains over here.
However, anyone with a wheat allergy or intolerance should avoid this type of product at all costs and go for a gluten-free alternative.
Pasta producers add some nutrients during the refinement process to create an enriched product, such as B-vitamins and iron. However, they still can’t compete with the natural benefits of unrefined whole grains.
Still, whole wheat may not appear on most restaurant menus (and forget about the more traditional Italian establishments — they love refining a grain or two).
Luckily, most supermarkets stock a few whole wheat pasta options, so you’re never pasta point of no return. (There has been no refinement process for the jokes in this article.)
Be sure to take a closer look at those nutrition labels. Truly whole wheat pasta will list 100 percent durum whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient. Check the package for “100 percent whole wheat” or the orange “Whole Grain” stamp.
Baffled by nutrition labels? Fear not. Peek in here for more information. They’re certainly not shy about letting you know when you’re in for some brans and germs.
Getting used to the strong, nutty taste and grainy texture of whole-wheat pasta may take a little time. Following the cooking instructions on the packet will make sure the noodles don’t stick together.
And if you really can’t get along with the less universal taste of whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain breads, oatmeals, or cereals can replace the whole-wheat hole in your diet.
With the right sauce or topping, adding whole-wheat pasta to a dish is an easy way to enjoy a healthy meal and sneak those whole grains onto the menu.
Sorry, grain-refinement-heads. Whole wheat has the edge when it comes to nutrition and overall nutritional wallop.
However, refined grains are not as harmful as some people have made out through the years. As long as you’re getting your fair share of whole wheat goodness and not overdoing the refined, starchy grains, you’re in for a whale of a time.
And, obviously, avoid whole wheat like the plague if you have a gluten or wheat allergy. It’s literally more of what messes with your system.