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Top 5 Diabetic Pasta Substitutes

Whole Wheat Pasta, Quinoa, Barley, Spaghetti Squash, Vegetable Ribbons

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Updated May 20, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

I love all kinds of pasta, but in recent years I have had to modify my diet to account for a sensitivity to gluten.  As a result, I have developed some great ideas that are also helpful for diabetics looking for a pasta substitute!  I have compiled my top 5 for you.  Some substitutes are healthier for diabetics because they are higher in protein and/or fiber than pasta is.  (The higher protein and fiber content helps with regulating blood sugar).  Some of my suggestions are lower than pasta in carbohydrate and calories, allowing you to have a larger portion size!

1. Whole Wheat And Fortified Pastas

Surprisingly similar in texture to al dente white pasta, a 1/3 cup serving of cooked whole wheat pasta has 3 times the amount of fiber as white pasta, making it a better option for glucose control.    

Another alternative to white pasta are the new fortified pasta varieties.  These pastas have been modified by adding a flour blend that includes egg whites and legumes for more protein; barley and oats for increased fiber; and flaxseed for healthy omega-3 fats.  These pastas contain 40% more protein and twice the fiber in the same amount of calories as regular pasta.  The higher protein and fiber content are both helpful for diabetic glucose control. 

 

2. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of my favorite pasta alternatives.  It is an ancient Incan grain, but its use has been gaining in popularity in recent years.  When cooked in chicken, beef or vegetable stock instead of plain water, quinoa becomes a very flavorful pasta alternative with a similar texture to couscous.  Serve it as a side dish with fish or chicken, or top it with meat, vegetables, and sauce.   A 1/3 cup serving of cooked quinoa has more than twice the fiber of regular pasta.

3. Barley

A 1/3-cup serving of cooked barley contains twice the fiber of pasta.  The texture of cooked barley is very similar to that of pasta.  I suggest trying barley as a substitute in pasta salad recipes -- once cooked, it tastes great hot or cold.   

4. Spaghetti Squash

When you shred cooked spaghetti squash with a fork, the texture is similar to angel hair pasta.  The biggest benefit of this substitute?  Portion size. One and a half cups of cooked, shredded spaghetti squash has the same amount of carbohydrates as just 1/3 cup of cooked pasta. 

5. Veggie Ribbons

Use a vegetable peeler to produce "ribbons" of nonstarchy vegetables to use in place of pasta.  Some good ones to try are zucchini, yellow summer squash, eggplant, peppers and cabbage.  Steam the ribbons for a similar mouth-feel to home-made ribbon pasta.  Enjoy a serving size of 1 & 1/2 cups of cooked veggie ribbons for only 15 grams of carbohydrate. 

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