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How to choose dried pasta

With a variety of pastas to choose from these days – from wheat or bean to quinoa or lentil – which is the best to pick?

Dried pasta is a great pantry staple. Ready in around 10 minutes, it’s the perfect base for a flavour-filled Italian meal. But which dried pasta is the best to keep in your cupboard?

What’s available?

Traditional dried pasta is made from durum wheat, a high-protein variety of wheat that is perfect for making pasta shapes. Usually the only other ingredients are water, salt, and, occasionally, egg.

Although durum wheat pasta is still the most common type you’ll see on the supermarket shelf, in recent years it has been joined by an increasing range of pasta made from other grains and legumes.

We found dried pasta made from wholemeal wheat, spelt, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, lentil, mung bean and edamame bean flours. Many of these are gluten-free options.

What’s a serve?

Pasta packets gave a range of serving sizes from 42g to 125g.

The most common serve size was 100g dried pasta, which is about 1 cup of medium shaped pasta – about 240g (2 cups) cooked pasta.

As a guide, we often use around 60g – 80g dried pasta per person, which is around ²/³ cup of pasta shapes.

Protein

Pasta contains protein from the wheat or other flour. The only pasta we found that was very low in protein was a konjac-based fettuccine. Gluten-free pasta made from mainly rice flour was also lower in protein. As legumes and quinoa are higher in protein than wheat, pasta made from bean, lentil and quinoa flours tends to be the highest in protein. If you’re following a vegetarian diet choosing a higher-protein dried pasta will help boost your protein intake.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 10g or more protein per 100g.

Fibre

Fibre helps to fill us up with long-lasting energy. It’s also really important for bowel health and as a food for our gut bacteria. Unfortunately, not all pasta lists the amount of fibre in the product. We recommend you look for a wholemeal or bean-based pasta for a higher fibre choice.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 5g or more fibre per 100g.

Sodium

Salt is one of the three key ingredients for pasta, but that doesn’t mean it’s a high sodium product. Most of the pasta we found was very low in sodium.
Most of the sodium in pasta dishes comes from the sauces. It’s common to add salt to the water you boil your pasta in to bring out the flavour of the pasta. Adding a quarter teaspoon for 2-4 serves will be enough to do this.

We recommend choosing dried pasta that contains 50mg or less sodium per 100g.

 

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