Best Ways to Make Pasta Healthier

Best Ways to Make Pasta Healthier

Posted on: Pasta

By Lucy Yanckello, Ph.D.

Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen subscription box for sourdough breads, fresh pastas, and artisanal pastries. 


Pasta, and carbs in general, are often demonized when it comes to being health conscious. However, pasta can be a wholesome addition to – or star of – any meal in a balanced diet. Topping pasta with sauces, vegetables, and lean proteins filled with vitamins and nutrients can help round out any diet.

What is the healthiest way to cook pasta?

The healthiest way to cook pasta, according to dieticians, is al dente which literally means “to the tooth” (firm and chewy). Al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index (GI), meaning that it will not spike blood sugar as dramatically as overcooked and mushy pasta. Low GI foods are digested slower, meaning they provide longer-lasting energy, whereas high GI carbohydrates cause blood sugars to spike and then crash.

Is undercooked pasta bad for you? Is undercooked pasta dangerous to eat?

Undercooked pasta does not present any immediate health risks. The exception to this is if your noodles are made with raw eggs, which can cause salmonella poisoning. Fully cooked pasta is easier for your body to digest and break down, meaning you won’t get many (if any) nutrients from eating undercooked pasta. 

Is overcooked pasta bad for you? Is overcooked pasta harder to digest?

Overcooked pasta is not bad for you per se, but overcooking does cause the glycemic index of pasta to increase. With a higher GI, overcooked pasta is digested more quickly and causes a spike and crash in blood sugar, which will leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating. In addition, overcooked pasta is stripped of nutrients, with reductions in fiber, B-vitamins, and protein. 

What is the healthiest way to eat pasta? Can pasta be made healthy?

The healthiest way to eat pasta is cooked al dente. Pasta is inherently healthy, as carbohydrates are important energy sources for our whole body, especially our brain. Al dente pasta has a lower GI meaning that it is digested slower, making you feel fuller for longer, which can help reduce snacking and aid in weight loss. 

What should I put on my pasta to be healthy?

In order to beef up the nutritional quality of a pasta dish, the focus should be on vegetables and lean proteins. In addition, swapping regular pasta for whole grain or one of the other pastas available on the market to increase protein and fiber content and reduce carbohydrate content can be helpful. Opt for tomato-based sauces and swap out heavy dairy products for those with less fat, such as greek yogurt.

What should I avoid putting on my pasta to be healthy?

When trying to be health conscious, dousing pasta in cheese or proteins high in fat may not be the best choice for everyday meals. For example, cream-based sauces filled with cheese and proteins such as pork sausage should be avoided. This is not to say cheese cannot be used on your pasta, just be aware of the amount and the type of cheese used – try to make it a side character instead of the star. 

How do you add fiber to pasta dishes?

Vegetables, beans, and other legumes can be added to pasta (or into pasta dough!) to beef up fiber content. Stores sell pastas of all types now, including those made with ingredients other than wheat flour, that increase the fiber content of the pasta itself (i.e. chickpeas, lentils, black beans). Additionally, any vegetables, beans, and other legumes added to the top of your pasta will increase the fiber content of your dish.

How do you add protein to pasta dishes?

Just as with increased fiber, pastas made with chickpeas, lentils, and other beans and legumes also have higher protein content than regular pasta – even whole wheat pasta has higher protein content than regular pasta. Protein can also come from more traditional sources such as chicken, turkey, and seafood. Opting for leaner proteins such as the ones listed will increase protein content without an accompanying increase in fat content of your dish. 

Where can I buy healthy pasta online?

At Wildgrain, we specialize in making high-quality, fresh pasta that are delivered directly to your door. Wildgrain is the first bake-from-frozen delivery subscription service for breads, rolls, pastries, and fresh pastas. Some of our popular pastas include fresh fettuccine, fresh rigatoni, and fresh tonnarelli. Learn more about Wildgrain and our artisanal baking and cooking methods. 


About the Author

Lucy Yanckello received her Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. She currently works as a medical writer and enjoys being able to help people better understand nutrition and science.


This content is for informational use only and does not replace professional nutrition and/or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition and/or medical recommendations. Please talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns.