8 Best Low Carb Pastas You Can Buy
While nothing can truly replace pasta in taste and texture, there are lots of brands trying to enter the carb-conscious pasta market segment. From zero carb "wet" noodles that are nothing like standard pasta, to high-protein gluten-free dry pasta that is closer in texture to standard pasta, you've definitely got options.
Pasta made from raw vegetables and cut into noodles definitely has its benefits, too, but in this article we'll be focusing on shelf-stable versions only.
Let's also consider that no pasta, traditional or otherwise, is going to taste good if you're cooking it wrong. Make sure to read package directions so you don't overcook it.
When it comes to nutrition, sauces play a big role. You can pick the "healthiest" noodle or best low carb pasta, but if you're still slathering it in a heavy, fatty, salty sauce it won't have the best nutrition value. Get inspired with our list of 17 East Pasta Recipes That Are Surprisingly Healthy.
What makes pasta "unhealthy"?
Pasta doesn't automatically spell bad news. It's important to remember that carbs absolutely have their place in a healthy diet. They help provide fuel for essential functions, while whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals. The main problem is when these carbs are highly processed and your servings sizes are too large. If you prefer to keep your daily load of carbohydrates on the lower side, but you don't want to give up the idea of a nice plate of pasta, low carb pastas can definitely provide a solution. However, keep in mind that low carb pastas aren't necessarily synonymous with healthy eating, so looking at the ingredient list and the nutritional panel is of utmost importance.
What you put on your pasta matters, too. If your low-carb pasta lacks in protein and fiber, you can pair it with vegetables like broccoli, or beans like chickpeas, to round out the nutritional value of your meal.
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How to buy low carb pasta
To make low carb noodles, brands often focus on creating flours from alternative sources like pulses, cauliflower, or other alternatives like shirataki for "wet" noodles. While everyone has their taste and texture preferences, there are a few things you can keep an eye on when shopping, to ensure you're getting the best noodle for you.
- Look at the fiber content. If a pasta has a higher carbohydrate count than you're expecting, make sure there's a good amount of fiber in it. Just remember that any drastic changes in fiber intake can cause digestive side effects, so consider that when purchasing zero carb, zero fiber pastas.
- When in doubt, opt for protein. Noodles made from kelp and konjac won't have any protein in them, while pastas made with pulse flours like garbanzo bean flour, will be protein-packed naturally. If you feel like you could go either way texture-wise, opt for a higher protein option.
- Look for a short ingredient list. Short is great. When pasta is made from alternative ingredients, there's a chance that lots of fillers and extra ingredients were added to it to make it behave like standard pasta. Since many brands pull off between 1-3 ingredients, anything over 5 ingredients is worth questioning for more information.
The best low carb pastas you can buy
1. Banza Cavatappi Made From Chickpeas
Banza's chickpea pasta comes in lots of different shapes which means you can give many of your favorite recipes a healthy makeover. Boasting nearly two times the protein and three times the fiber of standard pasta, this plant-based protein pasta has great texture (speaking as a long-time consumer) and will become a pantry staple. Banza doesn't quite have the same amount of fiber and protein as some of the other pulse pasta brands, but the taste and texture alone is worth it.
2. Veggiecraft Farms Pasta Made With Cauliflower
Veggiecraft pastas are made with three ingredients: lentil flour, pea flour, and cauliflower flour. This pick is high in fiber and protein (4 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein per serving), and although the levels aren't the highest on this list, this option stands out because of the short, natural ingredient list.
3. Barilla Red Lentil Penne
The classic pasta brand Barilla now makes a line of legume products. Their legume pastas are only made with one ingredient, in this case, red lentil flour. And that's a huge plus in our book. With 13 grams of protein per serving, this is a smart pick for those looking for high-protein options. However, just like some other picks on this list, the 34 grams of carbs with only 6 grams of fiber makes this a pretty carb-heavy option.
4. Trader Joe's Organic Black Bean Rotini
Trader Joe's Black Bean Rotini is 100 percent what you see is what you get. Made with only one ingredient—organic black bean flour—these noodles have substantially more fiber and protein than comparable pastas (15 grams of fiber, 14 grams of protein). A really great pulse pasta pick!
5. Miracle Noodle Plant Based Noodles Fettuccine Style
Miracle Noodles is a brand of shirataki noodles: a white, jiggly Japanese noodle made from the root of the konjac plant. This pasta alternative is very low calorie, very low carb, with some fiber. The fiber is called glucomannan and is soluble. That means it turns into a gel-like substance once you eat it, leaving you feeling full for longer. This particular product is made from three ingredients: water, konjac flour, and citric acid. A 3-ounce serving has zero calories, 1 gram of carbs, and 2 grams of fiber. While you may get very excited about this nutrition panel (eating noodles for zero calories? yes please!), you'll need to decide whether or not you like the taste and texture. And keep in mind: if you're opting for something that has zero calories, protein, and fat, you'll need to make sure the rest of your meals are nutrient-dense.
6. Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles
These noodles are basically seaweed that's been rinsed and dried. Packed with minerals like magnesium and calcium, this noodle alternative is low in calories and carbohydrates—you're only consuming 6 calories in a 4-ounce serving. The texture of these noodles is more similar to konjac noodles than a lentil or bean pasta. Again, because you're not getting a ton of nutrition from the noodles themselves, keep your other meals packed with protein and good fats.
7. Nün Pasta Fusilli Made With Chickpea & Seaweed
Nün's pasta is the best middle ground between regular pasta and low carb pasta. It's made with a blend of durum wheat semolina, chickpea flour, and ground up Chilean seaweed. The company sustainably harvests their seaweed in Chilean costal communities, which checks the environmental and community-enrichment boxes. One serving has 195 milligrams of sodium, the second highest of any noodle on this list, but also contains a decent amount of protein (7.6 grams).
8. Cappello's Almond Flour Fettuccine
Cappello's makes gluten-free products with almond flour. This fettuccini is said to be silkier and more "buttery" than traditional pasta. Made without gluten, grain, soy, and dairy, and the only noodle of the group that uses eggs. The ingredient list only contains almond flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and salt. But be aware of the sodium levels with this pick. One serving contains 760 milligrams, the highest of any noodle on this list, and that's without the sauce. So plan the rest of your day consciously if you need to watch your sodium intake.