Are Chickpea, Black Bean and Soy Bean Pastas Healthier Picks?

The short answer from a registered dietitian

Healthy bean pastas

Q: I’ve been seeing all the new types of pastas in the grocery aisle. Are those made from chickpea, black beans or soy beans a healthier choice?

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A: When it comes to spaghetti, there are more nutrient-rich options than standard refined flour noodles.

Ones made from beans (like chickpea, black beans or soybeans) have more protein, more fiber and more iron than traditional spaghetti.

Another smart pick? Substitute spaghetti squash for spaghetti. When you cook this yellow, round squash, the inside flesh of the vegetable actually resembles spaghetti noodles. But, it has far more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Or there are plenty of kitchen gadgets on the market to make your own noodles out of vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes ― and even beets. No time to DIY it? Most grocery stores now carry veggie noodles in the produce section.

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Whatever noodle you choose, just remember that the nutritional value of your dish doesn’t end with the noodle choice.

Choose a healthy fat. Try olive oil or avocado oil, or maybe even some pureed cashews, which can make a nice cream sauce.

Avoid heavy cream-based sauces. Sauces like Alfredo have a lot of unhealthy animal fats. And when choosing a red sauce, look for one with no added sugar. And if it has oil, make sure it’s extra virgin olive oil.

Bump up the veg. Your typical serving size of pasta is somewhere around a half of a cup to a cup. Pump up your bowl with a lot of colorful vegetables, such as roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.

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And mind your cheese, please! While Parmesan cheese is a nice topping, remember a little bit goes a long way. A tablespoon or less is fine, without adding too much unhealthy fat.

Functional medicine registered dietitian Lindsay Malone, RD

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