Noodles: The Varieties And Their Preparation Methods

Noodles or pasta are one of the most popular foods worldwide. For many people, they are an important staple food. For a long time, noodles were considered fattening foods. Is that correct? And is pasta healthy or unhealthy?

Are pasta healthy or unhealthy?

Noodles are eaten in large quantities around the world. Since they are generally one of the carbohydrate-rich foods and carbohydrates are sometimes referred to as unhealthy and fattening, the reputation of pasta is not always the best. Is pasta really unhealthy?

Basically, there is no general answer to this question, because there are endless variations of pasta – and each variant has its own properties and effects on health, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

As always, it is not only the quality of the noodle itself that matters but also the number of noodles you eat and what other foods you combine them with.

Because a pasta dish from z. B. 150 g of cooked pasta with 300 g of vegetables, some fried tofu, and a tomato sauce is of course much healthier than a meal of 300 g of pasta with a ham and cream sauce, especially if the latter is eaten several times a week.

With pasta, the preparation can also be crucial. Do you cook them soft or al dente?

Ultimately, it depends on your own constitution. This can decide whether you will be happy with pasta or stay healthy or not. Because if you don’t tolerate grain well – whether gluten or other ingredients – or if you don’t get a carbohydrate-rich diet, you will certainly not make pasta your favorite food.

Noodles consist of these ingredients

Noodles are traditionally made from grain – wheat (soft or durum), spelled, or rice. In the meantime, however, there are so many types of pasta that it is difficult to keep track of the pasta market.

  • There are noodles made from buckwheat, quinoa, millet, kamut (or khorasan), emmer, corn, and einkorn.
  • There is wholemeal pasta, pasta made from white flour, and pasta made from a mixture of wholemeal flour and white flour.
  • There are noodles made from legumes, i.e. chickpea noodles, mung bean noodles, red lentil noodles, soy noodles, and pea noodles.
  • There is pasta made from chestnuts, hemp and
  • there are calorie-free konjac noodles.

Many of the pasta mentioned are gluten-free, but the traditional varieties made from wheat or spelled are of course not.

While most noodles consist of nothing more than the appropriate raw material (grain, legumes, etc.) and water, there are also egg noodles in some places that also contain eggs.

Of course, there are also noodles with turmeric, noodles with porcini mushrooms, noodles with spirulina, noodles with algae, noodles with nettles, noodles with wild garlic, noodles with spinach, etc., etc. This does not mean that these noodles are seasoned with turmeric after cooking or served with porcini mushrooms. In their dry form, the noodles already contain the ingredients mentioned, which are added to the noodle dough in powder form before drying.

When it comes to studies – as below – in which the effect of pasta on health is examined, it is often difficult to classify the study results in a meaningful way if it is not differentiated more precisely which type of pasta the test subjects had eaten. However, it can be assumed that it will usually be the usual hard or soft wheat noodles made from white flour and, in the case of wholemeal noodles, conventional wholemeal wheat noodles.

Wholemeal pasta and light pasta: the difference

Wholemeal pasta is made from the whole grain or the flour from the whole grain and therefore also contains the nutrient-rich germ and the outer layers of the grain. White flour is used for white flour pasta, i.e. the flour from which the germ and outer layers have been removed. The typical white wheat flour is marked with the type designation 405.

Wholemeal pasta has a higher fiber content than white flour pasta. They also contain significantly more minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and secondary plant substances. At the same time, they are lower in calories and provide slightly fewer carbohydrates than the respective white flour noodles.

Almost every study shows that wholemeal pasta has a positive effect on health and can also help with weight loss, with white flour pasta the opposite is often the case, although here too, as always, it was eaten amount arrives.

This is how dry noodles are made

Of course, pasta also differs in shape (spirelli, spaghetti, penne, fusilli, tagliatelle, farfalle, etc.) and in industrial production. In the area of ​​dry pasta, there are pressed pasta, rolled pasta, and spaetzle:

  • Pressed noodles are made by pressing the dough into the desired shape with high pressure through so-called bronze matrices. Then they are dried.
  • Rolled noodles are rolled in several passes into an increasingly thin sheet of dough (up to one meter wide) and then cut to size (ribbon noodles) or punched (Farfalle) and also dried.
  • Spaetzle dough is significantly moister than other pasta doughs. It is pressed directly into boiling water through the appropriate mold, but they only remain there for about two minutes before being dried.

In addition to dry noodles, there are also fresh noodles. They can be found in the refrigerated section and should usually be used up within four weeks.

This is how you can make pasta yourself

Depending on the equipment, you can now make any type of pasta yourself. But you can also find numerous pasta recipes online for ordinary households without major mechanical equipment. Here, for example, you can find out how you can make your own wholemeal spelled tagliatelle, gluten-free tagliatelle, and wholemeal spelled spaetzle.

These nutrients are found in pasta

The nutrients in pasta obviously depend on what the pasta was made from. Therefore, wheat noodles also differ in this respect from e.g. B. Corn noodles, whole wheat noodles from white flour noodles, and grain noodles from noodles made from legumes, while konjac noodles contain almost no nutrients apart from water and fiber.

Konjac noodles contain almost no calories, no fat, and no significant amounts of carbohydrates, but of course no protein, no vitamins, no minerals – nothing. These noodles must therefore not be considered suppliers of nutrients. They are pure fillers for people who want to lose weight or increase the fiber content of their food for other reasons, but cannot contribute to the supply of nutrients or vital substances.

On average, the nutritional values ​​of whole grain pasta (per 100g of cooked pasta) look like this (vitamins and minerals are only listed if they are present in relevant amounts).

The amounts of vitamins and minerals in white flour pasta are negligible and therefore cannot be compared with the figures given here:

No lectins in pasta

Cooked noodles – including cooked wholemeal noodles – no longer contain any appreciable amounts of lectin, so they do not harbor the possible health risks of these substances and can therefore be eaten without any concerns. For more information on lectins, see our article on lectins.

The glycemic index, the glycemic load of pasta

The glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load (GL) of food describes its influence on the blood sugar level. Since the glycemic index always refers to 100 g of carbohydrates, it is not that practical (because who knows how many carbohydrates are contained in the amount consumed?). Glycemic load, on the other hand, refers to the carbohydrate content per 100g of food.

  • GI values ​​below 30 are considered low, and values ​​above 50 are considered high.
  • GL values ​​below 10 are considered low, and values ​​above 20 are considered high.

Below are a few examples:

  • Spaghetti al dente: GI – 40, GL – 30
  • Spaghetti cooked soft: GI – 55, GL – 41
  • Wholemeal pasta al dente: GI – 40, GL – 26
  • Wholemeal pasta cooked soft: GI – 50, GL – 32

However, the values ​​vary considerably depending on the source and type of pasta and should therefore only be used as a rough guide. Nevertheless, the whole grain version al dente performs best.

Interestingly, a study from 2017 also read that a meal of pasta (which certainly does not mean whole grain pasta) does not raise blood sugar levels as high as a meal of potatoes or bread.

(However, the question arises as to which bread and which potato preparation was involved here. Because of course, there is a clear difference between wholemeal rye bread and a table roll. And even in the wholemeal area, we have certain differences, for example between pumpernickel and wholemeal wheat toast.)

Prepare pasta al dente

Should you cook pasta al dente? Or better not? But you should. Because noodles al dente not only taste better, their influence on the blood sugar level is also lower than that of soft-boiled noodles, so that they can generally be described as healthier – see also the previous section on the glycemic index of noodles.

Noodles and diseases

Since pasta is one of the carbohydrate-rich foods and carbohydrates are often equated with “unhealthy”, some believe that frequent consumption of pasta could possibly be carcinogenic.

However, a 2013 study found that eating a lot of bread increases the risk of breast and colon cancer, especially in women. Noodle consumption had hardly any influence on the examined cancer risk.

In a study from September 2016, there were also hardly any recognizable connections between foods containing grain and the risk of breast cancer. An exception was brown rice, which could reduce the risk of breast cancer with at least 2 servings per week.

Another exception was white bread, which was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, while increased consumption of whole grain products lowered the risk. When eating noodles, it even appeared that the risk of breast cancer fell with increasing noodle consumption.

In 2017, a study showed that the higher the glycemic index of the diet, the more white flour products were eaten, particularly white bread, and the fewer vegetables were eaten, the higher the risk of bladder cancer. Regular consumption of whole grain products with vegetables, on the other hand, did not increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Noodles and their reputation as fattening foods

Since noodles have a reputation for being fattening and the question is often asked whether noodles make you fat or not, we have written our own article on this. You can find it here: eat pasta and still lose weight

Prepare pasta the healthy way

Noodles can be prepared in many different ways and also in a very healthy way. Just pay attention to the following points:

  • Choose wholemeal pasta, preferably gluten-free pasta, e.g. B. whole grain rice noodles, millet noodles, or buckwheat noodles.
  • Alternate with noodles made from legumes (lentil noodles, pea noodles, chickpea noodles) and – if necessary – with konjac noodles.
  • Eat small portions of pasta and preferably a salad or soup beforehand.
  • Instead of serving noodles with high-fat sauces, serve them with lots of vegetables and high-protein side dishes such as tofu or legume meatballs.
  • It is best to make your pasta sauce yourself, as store-bought ready-made sauces are often too high in calories.
  • If you fancy a high-calorie sauce, then at least skip the cheese, which is often sprinkled over the dish as well.
  • If you want to eat pasta with oil (e.g. garlic with oil or pesto), limit yourself to 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil or pesto per person.
  • Always cook pasta al dente!

Asian noodle types

The following are the different types of Asian noodles:

Rice noodles

Rice noodles are found in many Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, and southern China. They are usually made with rice powder and water, but there are different versions of rice noodles across Asia that use different ingredients for the dough, such as B. Tapioca Starch.

Soba noodles

Soba noodles are a type of noodles made from buckwheat. It is a popular type of noodle in Japan, China, and Korea. Soba noodles are served with tempura, kimchi, or soy sauce. They can also be served cold with dipping sauces such as tsuyu or sesame sauce.

Glass noodles

Glass noodles are a type of noodle made from pea, corn, or mung bean starch. The name comes from the sound the dough makes when it is boiled in water and then fried. The dough is rolled into a thin sheet and cut into strips.

Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles have been around for centuries. They have been popular in Japan since the late 19th century. There are three main types of ramen noodles: Japanese-style ramen noodle soup base noodles, Chinese ramen noodles (also known as Chinese wheat noodles), and Japanese-style instant ramen.

Udon noodles

Udon noodles are Japanese noodles made from wheat flour and salt. The dough is typically made by mixing flour with boiling water and kneading it into a paste. Udon noodles are served in a variety of ways, but most commonly they are boiled in water or broth and then served with a dipping sauce.

Somen noodles

Somen noodles are thin, white noodles made from wheat flour. They are similar to vermicelli but much thinner. Somen noodles are often served cold with dip and toppings such as chopped green onions, grated ginger, and sesame seeds.

The most famous dish that uses somen noodles is the Japanese dish “zaru soba”, which means “soup soba”. It’s a simple dish served chilled on a bamboo mat in a small bowl with toppings like grated ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce.

Mie noodles

Mie noodles are a staple food in Southeast Asia. Mie noodles are typically served with a variety of ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and seafood.

The dish is usually eaten with a soup or broth called sup in Indonesia or laksa in Malaysia. The broth is usually made from chicken or beef broth and may contain other ingredients like coconut milk and curry paste.

Mie noodles have been eaten for centuries and have become an integral part of the region’s culture.

Konjac noodles

The konjac plant is a type of yam that grows in an arid climate and can be harvested all year round. It is made into flour, which is then mixed with water to make dough for the noodles. The dough is then cut into thin strips and cook until they become translucent and gelatinous. They are usually dried or sold in packs with fresh or frozen konjac noodles.

The Asian noodles in spelled quality

The most popular types of noodles include ramen, udon, somen, and mie noodles. These noodles are traditionally made from wheat flour, but spelling is now more commonly used to make it healthier and more tolerable for Europeans.

Alternatives to pasta

As shown above, pasta can easily be integrated into a healthy diet. Nevertheless, nothing speaks against a little variety. Examples of alternatives to pasta include:

  • Vegetables (zucchini, pumpkin, carrots) that can be cut into noodles with the spiral cutter and served raw, blanched, or steamed like noodles with sauces or vegetables.
  • Quinoa, buckwheat, or millet
  • Brown Rice or Wild Rice
  • spelled rice
  • bulgur or couscous
  • potatoes
  • chestnuts

Conclusion: Noodles can be very healthy

The unsurprising conclusion is that when prepared correctly, eaten in moderation, and served with lots of vegetables, high-quality pasta can be a valuable part of a healthy diet.

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Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

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