For pasta lovers, going gluten-free may seem far more daunting than a simple diet modification.
Whether you’re following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease, a sensitivity to gluten or personal preference, you don’t have to give up your favorite dishes.
Though traditional pasta is typically made using wheat flour, there are plenty of gluten-free alternatives available.
Here are 6 of the best types of gluten-free pasta and noodles.
Brown rice pasta is one of the most popular varieties of gluten-free pasta due to its mild flavor and chewy texture — both of which work well as a substitute for most traditional pasta dishes.
Plus, research shows that the bran found in brown rice is loaded with antioxidants, powerful compounds that can help fight oxidative damage to cells and promote better health (3).
Summary Brown rice pasta is a good source of fiber, minerals and antioxidants that can optimize health and prevent chronic disease. Its mild flavor and chewy texture make it a great substitute for most traditional types of pasta.
Shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan, a type of fiber extracted from the root of the konjac plant.
Because the fiber passes through your intestine undigested, shirataki noodles are essentially free of calories and carbs.
They have a gelatinous texture and little to no taste but take on the flavors of other ingredients when cooked.
However, keep in mind that shirataki noodles contribute almost no calories or nutrients to your diet.
For this reason, it’s especially important to load up on healthy toppings for your pasta, such as heart-healthy fats, veggies and protein.
Summary Shirataki noodles are made from glucomannan, a type of fiber that’s calorie-free and can help promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar and relieve constipation.
Chickpea pasta is a newer type of gluten-free pasta that has recently garnered a good deal of attention among health-conscious consumers.
It’s very similar to regular pasta but with a hint of chickpea flavor and a slightly more chewy texture.
It’s also a high-protein, high-fiber alternative, packing about 13 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber into each two-ounce (57-gram) serving (11).
In fact, one small study in 12 women found that eating one cup (200 grams) of chickpeas before a meal helped reduce blood sugar levels, appetite and calorie consumption later in the day, compared to a control meal (15).
Summary Chickpea pasta is high in protein and fiber, which may aid weight control and help improve bowel function, cholesterol levels and blood sugar management.
Quinoa pasta is a gluten-free substitute for regular pasta that’s typically made from quinoa blended with other grains, such as corn and rice. It’s often described as having a slightly grainy texture with a nutty flavor.
Its main ingredient, quinoa, is a popular whole grain favored for its rich nutrient profile, mild flavor and extensive health benefits.
Quinoa is also a good source of several other important vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper and iron (19).
Plus, quinoa pasta is rich in fiber, providing about 3 grams of fiber in each 1/4-cup (43-gram) serving of dry pasta (20).
Studies show that fiber can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestive health and promote feelings of fullness to prevent weight gain (21, 22, 23).
Summary Quinoa pasta is made from quinoa and other grains, such as corn and rice. It’s a good source of protein, fiber and micronutrients and may be beneficial for digestive health, blood sugar control and weight maintenance.
Soba noodles are a type of pasta made from buckwheat flour, a plant commonly cultivated for its nutritious grain-like seeds.
They have a nutty taste with a chewy, grainy texture and are available in many different shapes and sizes.
Soba noodles are lower in calories than many types of traditional pasta but still supply a good amount of protein and fiber.
Soba noodles also have a lower glycemic index than other starches, meaning that eating soba noodles won’t increase your blood sugar levels as much (28).
However, note that some manufacturers combine buckwheat flour with other types of flour when producing this type of noodles.
Be sure to check the ingredients label carefully and avoid any products that contain wheat flour or white flour if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
Summary Soba noodles are a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour. Eating buckwheat has been linked to improved heart health, weight regulation and blood sugar levels.
Many types of gluten-free pasta are made using a blend of different grains, including corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and amaranth.
The nutritional value of these pasta varieties can vary significantly based on what types of grains are used. They may contain anywhere between 4–9 grams of protein and 1–6 grams of fiber per 2-ounce (57-gram) serving (29, 30, 31).
For the most part, multigrain pasta can be a good alternative to regular pasta for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
Multigrain pasta is also often closer in taste and texture to traditional pasta. Just a simple swap can make all your favorite recipes gluten-free.
However, it’s important to pay close attention to the ingredients label and steer clear of products loaded with fillers, additives and gluten-containing ingredients.
Summary Multigrain pasta is made from grains like corn, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and amaranth. It’s often a close match for regular pasta in terms of taste and texture, but the nutrient profile can vary based on its ingredients.
Though pasta may have once been considered completely off the table for those on a gluten-free diet, there are now plenty of options available.
Be sure to opt for products that are certified gluten-free and double check the ingredients label to avoid cross-contamination and adverse side effects.
Additionally, keep intake in moderation and pair your pasta with other nutritious ingredients to maximize potential health benefits and maintain a well-rounded diet.