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Do you love noodles? Me too. Is it possible to enjoy noodles when you’re following a low carb diet? Absolutely! They may not be the type of noodles you’re used to eating, but there are plenty of delicious options.
I’ve been living and cooking with type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years. When I crave noodles, I generally eat spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini. Or, I have a small portion of whole grain linguine or brown rice noodles, depending on whether I’m in the mood for Italian or Asian cuisine.
These are good options, but as more companies have started to embrace noodles made from alternative ingredients, even more low carb options have hit the shelves. This article reviews a few of my favorites.
While some of these are also gluten-free noodles, it’s important to keep in mind that “gluten-free” does not necessarily imply low carb. You’ll still have to read the nutrition labels to make sure a particular type of noodle will work for you.
For the sake of comparison, know that one cup of cooked spaghetti noodles made from refined wheat flour typically contains more than 40 grams (g) of carbs and less than 3 g of fiber (at least 37 g of net carbs) per serving.
While there’s no standardized definition of “low carb,” here’s the criteria I used in judging the noodles I tried:
- Net carbs, or carbs minus fiber, had to be 10 g or less per serving.
- The noodles had to be available in one of my local grocery stores.
- I had to enjoy eating them and be willing to eat them again.
- The price had to be less than $2 per serving.
The noodles listed below ranged in price from $1 to $2 per serving at my local grocery store. The dollar signs reflect how these products compare to each other. All the products mentioned below happen to be gluten-free, although that wasn’t part of my criteria.
1. Explore Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti
I was surprised to learn that this black bean spaghetti is made from black soybeans, not black turtle beans — what people usually mean when they say “black beans.”
Since soybeans have a relatively mild flavor, these noodles can be used in a variety of dishes without overpowering your sauce. The texture is great, too.
This was by far my favorite low carb pasta that I tested, but that could be because I included it in a delicious Southwestern dish featuring fire-roasted tomatoes, red bell peppers, jalapeños, and sweet corn. There was also avocado sauce drizzled on top. What’s not to like?
Nutrition (per 56 g serving): 19 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 25 g protein
Net carbs: 8 g
2. Better Than Noodles Shirataki Noodles
These noodles are made from konnyaku flour, also called konjac flour, and oat fiber. Konnyaku is a root vegetable full of soluble fiber that’s in the taro family and is pretty close to being a zero-calorie, zero-carb, zero-flavor food. Noodles made from konnyaku are called shirataki.
Fresh out of the package, the noodles have a fishy odor. Rinsing and draining them should get rid of most of the smell. Then, you can either boil them or dry-fry them in a nonstick skillet. They’re softer when boiled and have a more gelatinous texture when dry-fried.
These noodles are delicate and most similar to angel hair pasta. Serve them tossed with a simple sesame-ginger sauce or in other Asian-style dishes.
I tried the Better Than Noodles version. The same company also sells a Better than Pasta version that’s similar.
Nutrition (per 137 g serving): 4 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 0 g protein
Net carbs: 0 g
3. Palmini Hearts of Palm Linguine
These noodles are made from hearts of palm and are very crisp right out of the bag, similar to the texture of daikon radish or jicama. Great raw, they give salads extra crunch. For a milder flavor, you can soak them in milk before using them.
You can also serve them cooked. If you’re a fan of vegetable-based noodles like spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles, you’ll love Palmini. And you won’t have to pull out, or clean, your spiralizer. Just boil them to soften them, and serve them with Italian or Mediterranean sauces and seasonings.
Nutrition (per 75 g serving): 4 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein
Net carbs: 2 g
4. Explore Cuisine Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine
I’d never heard of edamame noodles — except the ones you make yourself from soy flour — until a friend mentioned them. I looked for the brand she recommended, Seapoint Farms, but couldn’t find it locally. I did, however, find Explore Cuisine’s Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine.
These noodles cook up just like high carb pasta — all you have to do is boil and drain. They do look a bit funny because they’re rippled, but the ripples become less pronounced after cooking.
These soy-based noodles have a hearty, earthy taste and aren’t mushy at all. They need a flavorful sauce and are great served with chimichurri or pesto.
Nutrition (per 56 g serving): 20 g carbs, 14 g fiber, 24 g protein
Net carbs: 6 g
5. Miracle Noodle Fettuccine
Miracle Noodles are also in the konnyaku and konjac family. Like Better Than Noodles, they have to be rinsed and drained before eating — doing so will get rid of the fishy smell, which some people find unappetizing. After rinsing, this fettuccine should be both boiled and dry-fried for the best taste and texture.
These noodles are wide, as fettuccine tends to be, so their gelatinous texture is more obvious than with a thinner noodle. Some people think the texture is perfectly fine in the right dish, while others don’t like it at all. I suspect that many folks who dislike Miracle Noodles don’t follow the preparation instructions correctly.
Serve these noodles with seafood-based, Asian-style dishes like shrimp stir-fry.
Nutrition (per 85 g serving): 1 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g protein
Net carbs: 0 g
When shopping, look at carb counts and fiber content first. Then check out the amount of protein per serving. Noodles higher in protein may be easier to manage, blood sugar-wise.
If you must have wheat-based noodles, consider whole grain options such as Barilla Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti. It clocks in at 32 g net carbs per serving, but you could reduce your portion size and have the pasta as a side dish rather than the main event.
You may also want to try legume-based noodles made from red lentils or chickpeas. These are typically in the 30 g net carb ballpark, similar to wheat-based noodles, but they contain more protein.
There are lots of low carb noodles out there, from bean-based to vegetable-based. Look for those that are low in net carbs, and experiment to see which ones taste best to you.
Instead of sticking with just one type of sauce for all, try different recipes and flavor profiles. You may find that you like different types of noodles in different types of dishes.
Shelby Kinnaird, author of “The Diabetes Cookbook for Electric Pressure Cookers” and “The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes,” publishes recipes and tips for people who want to eat healthy at Diabetic Foodie, a website often stamped with a “top diabetes blog” label. Shelby is a passionate diabetes advocate who likes to make her voice heard in Washington, D.C., and she leads two DiabetesSisters support groups in Richmond, Virginia. She has successfully managed her type 2 diabetes since 1999.