What you should know about alternative pastas

Most people know by now that traditional white pastas contain carbs that spike blood sugar, are nutrient poor and can affect the microbiome.

But what about the new pastas that we see on the shelves like chickpea pasta, brown rice pasta, and red lentil pasta? What should we look out for when consuming these? 

The rise of alternative pastas are in response to the decline of traditional white pasta.  People are taught to stay away, yet they still crave something to put their homemade marinara on!  So they reach for what they perceive as being a “better for you food”.

I don’t blame you, I love a good bowl of pasta and it’s not something I am ok with giving up completely.  However, if you follow me you know my philosophy is that it is what we do consistently that makes the most difference in our lives.

When you are reading a nutrition label, check the carbohydrate density of a food.  The carb density is a percent of food that is made up of carbs. You want to keep this # as low as possible. 

Foods that are higher in net carbohydrates can spike blood sugar more quickly. However, if the food contains a lot of fiber and protein, then it breaks down more slowly in the body. 

Calculating carb density: (Carbs (g)- Fiber (g)) / Weight (g) X 100.  You want to keep this as low as possible, well under 30%. For example a chickpea pasta has (32g carbs – 5g fiber) / 56g serving X 100 = 48% (!) .  

Compared to a serving of whole chickpeas  (19g Carbs – 4 Fiber(g)) / 122gs (½ cup) X 100 = 12% 

Compared to 1 medium sweet potato which has (24g Carbs – 4g Fiber)/ 114gs Serving = 17%.

In the example above, if you choose to eat whole chickpeas or sweet potatoes,  you are still able to eat a decent amount of carbohydrate to keep you full, yet the carb density remains relatively low. 

Any food made from any kind of flour may strip fiber from the carbohydrates.  Studies have shown that this can promote blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance and even affect the gut microbiome. So, just because your chickpea pasta sounds like it’s a great idea – doesn’t mean that it actually is. 

So, allow this to guide you in making the best decision about the carbs you choose to eat on the regular. 

I choose to eat delicious bowls of handmade pasta when I am in an amazing Italian restaurant or when I travel to Italy. When I can really truly enjoy the quality of the food. 


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