Healthier Swaps: Whole Grain Pasta for Veggie Pasta
Everyone knows that we should be eating more vegetables, and the food market has really capitalized on this in the past several years. At the grocery store you will now find veggie chips, veggie straws, veggie crisps and veggie pasta.
While some of these veggie products are better than others, most of them merely contain vegetable purees, pastes or powders, and generally not as the main ingredient. Just because your food is green (or orange or yellow), doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a nutrition powerhouse.
Pasta is a grain, which give us carbohydrates, B vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Grains can be categorized into two separate sub-groups: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains give us fiber, which is an extremely important nutrient for health. Refined grains on the other hand are not rich in fiber because of the way it is processed. Veggie pasta is unfortunately made with refined flour rather than whole grain, so even though it contains vegetable products, it’s not nearly as high in fiber as whole grain pasta.
Vegetables are a great source of many vitamins and nutrients including potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. However when you compare the nutrition labels in the example above, the veggie pasta actually has less potassium than the whole grain, just marginally more vitamin A, and neither pastas contain vitamin C. The only substantial nutritional benefit of veggie pasta over its whole grain counterpart is that it contains more folate.
All in all, eat your vegetables rather than consuming foods processed with vegetable products. Stick with whole grains or else you’re losing the fiber benefit!