Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Pasta Bad For You?

Also Known As: noodles, spaghetti, fettuccini, linguine, rigatoni, etc.



Short answer

In short, if you eat whole grain pasta, you are doing your body a favor. If you eat white pasta, on the other hand, the exact opposite can be said.



Long answer

Like so many other things, saying whether or not pasta is good for you is not a straightforward answer. It depends entirely on which type of pasta you use. White pasta, which is pasta made from wheat flour and then refined so that everything but the endosperm of the grain kernel is stripped away, is devoid of much of its original nutrients and full of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly, causing a feeling of hunger (which leads to overeating) and a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. This rapid elevation of blood sugar can lead to dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, it can also lead to coma or death. Also, due to the refining process, white flour contains about 25% less protein than whole grain pasta and only 9% dietary fiber (compared to 23% for its whole grain counterpart). 

Whole grain pasta, in comparison, keeps the three important parts of the grain kernel - bran, germ, and endosperm. Apart from having nearly a quarter of the daily amount needed for protein and fiber, whole grain pasta also has less calories. The high fiber content in whole grain pasta keeps the body regular and helps remove cholesterol from the body, which in turn protects the body from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. 

In the USA, both white pasta and whole grain wheat pasta have B-complex vitamins. The difference is that while whole grain pasta contains them naturally, in white pasta they have been added in, as the refining process takes away the vitamins and minerals that had been in the grain to start with. 

All in all, if you want to eat pasta, whole grain is the way to go. White pasta may have a longer shelf life and more familiar texture and taste, but whole grain is much better for you. Of course, anyone with wheat allergies should look for pasta not made with wheat flour.

Possible short-term side effects

  • white pasta can cause:
  • headache
  • nausea
  • blood sugar spike
  • a feeling of hunger

Possible long-term side effects

  • white pasta can cause:
  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • weight gain

Ingredients to be aware of

  • simple carbohydrates
  • excess calories


  • whole grain pasta:
  • high in fiber
  • high in protein
  • keeps body regular
  • lowers cholesterol
  • protects against diabetes
  • protects cardiovascular disease

Healthier alternatives

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 01-03-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 01-03-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Random Page

Check These Out!