Whole-grain pasta is made from flour that contains the entire wheat grain -- the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Traditional pasta is made from refined durum wheat, or semolina, where the bran and germ are removed during processing. While whole-grain pasta may contain other grains in addition to unrefined durum wheat, such as amaranth and spelt, it's typically a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Whole-grain pasta is generally higher in protein and dietary fiber than refined pasta. A 1-cup serving of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti provides about 175 calories, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat. It also supplies 6 grams of dietary fiber, or 24 percent of the recommended daily value. Whole-wheat spaghetti is a good source of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and selenium.
Carbohydrates for Energy
Just over 80 percent of the calories in whole-grain pasta come from carbohydrates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming a diet that provides 45 to 65 percent of the calories from carbohydrates -- particularly fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, such as those found in vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy for muscle and nerve function, according to the McKinley Health Center.
Vitamins and Minerals
One cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti supplies 97 percent and 52 percent of the recommended daily values for manganese and selenium, respectively. Manganese aids in bone formation and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and cholesterol, while selenium enhances immunity and supports thyroid function. It also supplies roughly 10 percent each of the daily values for phosphorus, copper, magnesium and thiamin. Magnesium and phosphorus are essential for maintaining strong bones. Copper is used to make red blood cells and connective tissue, while thiamin supports nervous system health and aids in energy metabolism.
Whole-grain pasta is high in dietary fiber. Choosing fiber-rich foods supports digestive health, promotes regular bowel movements, helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and aids in weight management. Whole grains also contain phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, these compounds show promise in protecting against certain types of cancers, especially when consumed along with certain minerals, including selenium, copper, magnesium and manganese.
According to Cooking Light magazine, newer whole-grain pastas have a better flavor and texture than their predecessors. This is due, in part, to improved production technology that helps create a smoother texture. Whole-grain pasta has a rich, nutty flavor that pairs nicely with grilled or roasted vegetables and tomato-based sauces. Another option is to try blended pastas, which mix semolina and whole grains. These pastas are more substantial than traditional refined pasta, but not as grainy as the whole-grain variety.
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source - Health Gains From Whole Grains
- Cooking Light: Whole-Grain Pastas
- Nutrition Value: Spaghetti, Whole-wheat, Cooked
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans - Carbohydrates
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients
- Australian Government: Department of Health and Aging - Vitamin and Mineral Functions
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.