What Is Whole Grain Spaghetti?

Britt Archer

Pasta is a staple food in many places around the world. Spaghetti is a distinct marker of Italian cuisine and is cheaply and readily available in most places. It's a long, thin type of noodle, and the name literally translates to “skinny string.” While some pastas are made from refined flour, whole grain spaghetti offers consumers a healthier choice with more taste, fiber and nutrients than traditional spaghetti noodles.

Whole grain spaghetti is healthier than traditional spaghetti.
Whole grain spaghetti is healthier than traditional spaghetti.

Whole grain foods start out as plants. Most whole grain flours come from wheat kernels, and the different types of wheat have different uses. Durum wheat is a favorite among spaghetti manufacturers because it has a higher protein and gluten content than other types of wheat, and gluten is what makes pasta easily formed into shapes. Whole grain products are made from flour that contains all three parts of the wheat kernel: the germ, the bran and the endosperm.

Durum wheat may be used to make whole grain spaghetti.
Durum wheat may be used to make whole grain spaghetti.

The germ and the bran are the nutrient powerhouses of flour. They are what give whole grain spaghetti its high fiber content and distinct, heady taste. These two parts of the wheat kernel are also what make eating whole grains a challenge for some people because they lend a chewy, almost rubbery texture to the noodles. The endosperm contributes carbohydrates and starch to the pasta and is mostly responsible for the milder flavors found in whole grains and the quick burst of energy derived from whole grain carbohydrates.

Like whole grain bread, whole grain spaghetti looks and tastes a little different than its refined flour counterpart. Spaghetti made from white flour has been bleached to remove the color and only uses the endosperm of the wheat kernel, removing the texture and earthy flavor and also many of the nutrients. Whole grain noodles are generally medium to dark brown in color and are quite chewy when compared to refined pastas.

Cooking with whole grains can intimidate novices, but it shouldn't scare people away from trying to eat a whole grain diet. Whole grain spaghetti requires more water and a longer cooking time than refined white pastas. The amount of water that is needed increases because whole wheat flour is capable of absorbing more water than its refined counterpart. The longer cooking time allows the water to penetrate the fibrous areas of the pasta.

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