The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends at least half of your grain servings come from whole grains for a reason -- these grains provide more nutrients and health benefits than refined grains. Next time you reach for pasta at the grocery store, choose one of the many whole-grain options, including whole-wheat spaghetti. Try different brands and types to find the one you like best, and, if you aren't a fan of the new taste and texture, try mixing a whole-grain pasta with a regular pasta to help you get used to it.
Whole-wheat pasta is lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber than regular pasta, making it the better choice. A 1-cup serving of whole-wheat spaghetti provides 174 calories, 7.5 grams protein, 0.8 gram fat and 37.2 grams of carbohydrates, including 6.3 grams of fiber. This is 25 percent of the daily value for fiber. The same-sized serving of regular spaghetti contains 221 calories, 8.1 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of fat and 43.2 grams of carbohydrates. It only provides 2.5 grams of fiber, or 10 percent of the DV. Fiber adds bulk to food to slow the emptying of your stomach so you feel full for longer; it also lowers your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease and helps prevent constipation and other digestive issues.
Neither of these types of pasta is a good source of vitamins. Eat a serving of whole-wheat pasta and you will have consumed 10 percent of the DV for thiamine, which helps your body deal with stressful conditions and improves your immune function, as well as keeping your skin and hair healthy. However, regular pasta doesn't provide a significant amount of any essential vitamin unless you opt for pasta that has been enriched with extra vitamins.
You'll get more essential minerals if you opt for whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta. Each serving of whole-wheat pasta provides 10 percent of the DV for magnesium and 13 percent of the DV for phosphorus. Regular pasta provides 10 percent of the DV for iron. Both types of pasta also provide small amounts of the other essential minerals. You need magnesium for keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level, maintaining a regular heartbeat and strengthening your bones. Phosphorus is essential for producing DNA and repairing cell damage, and iron is necessary for forming the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.
Refined grains like regular pasta don't provide the same health benefits as whole grains. The beneficial plant chemicals, fiber, vitamins and minerals in whole grains work together to provide a number of health benefits, including lowering your risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, according to an article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in May 2011. Whole grains may also keep your gastrointestinal system functioning properly and help you maintain a healthy weight.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Spaghetti, Whole-wheat, Cooked
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Spaghetti, Cooked, Unenriched, Without Added Salt
- ChooseMyPlate: What Foods Are in the Grains Group?
- The Journal of Nutrition: Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health Benefits Associated with Whole Grains—Summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.