Refined flour, or all-purpose flour, is a popular ingredient in baking and making different forms of bread. It is also used in making pasta, an Italian dish that is currently famous around the world.
In general, refined flour is produced from wheat flour that undergoes a milling process where the bran and germ are removed, leaving only the starchy part. It is what gives the foods their smooth texture but deprives them of fibre and other essential nutrients. Therefore, while refined flour pasta is flavourful, it may not be the best for your health. So, here are some alternatives you can try:
Whole Wheat Pasta
Unlike refined pasta, whole wheat pasta retains the bran and germ layers, which provide more fibre, vitamins, and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Therefore, consuming whole-grain pasta not only promotes digestive health, but it also reduces the risk of heart disease and regulates blood sugar levels.
A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that regularly eating whole grains significantly reduces the risk of several chronic diseases. It suggested that replacing refined grains with whole grains, like whole-wheat bread and brown rice, can cut your risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and even death from various causes.
Brown Rice Pasta
If you're gluten intolerant or are suffering from celiac disease, then brown rice pasta is a go-to choice. It is a gluten-free alternative that is rich in fibre, folate, riboflavin (B2), potassium, and calcium. Additionally, it is very high in manganese, a mineral that helps in amino acid, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrate metabolism, according to the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Flavour-wise, it has a nutty taste, which makes it more interesting.
Another gluten-free option for pasta is quinoa, which is also one of the best sources of plant-based protein for vegetarians and vegans. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 g of protein. Additionally, it is packed with fibre, antioxidants, and minerals, such as potassium, iron, and magnesium.
Also known as 'zoodles,' zucchini pasta is an extremely nutritious alternative to traditional pasta. It is low in carbs, fat, sugar, and calories, which makes it beneficial for people looking to lose weight. In addition, it contains fibre and vitamin C, which support digestive health and boost immunity, respectively.
Chickpea flour is made from chickpeas, a type of legume belonging to the family Fabaceae. It is a popular choice of food for people with gluten sensitivity and those with celiac disease. As compared to white flour or whole grain pasta, chickpea pasta provides more protein, fibre, and iron, according to the USDA.
Pasta is a delicious dish traditionally made with refined flour, which is not very healthy. Depending on your dietary preferences, you can always shake things up and switch to healthier versions of your favourite foods. If you love pasta, there are other alternatives to try, including whole wheat, zucchini, chickpea, brown rice, and quinoa pasta. However, if you have gluten sensitivity, it is best to avoid foods made with wheat flour.