Do I have to switch from white pasta to whole grain pasta?

While it’s important to try to make half your grains whole every day, I struggle the most with switching from white pasta to whole wheat pasta. But is it really necessarily healthier to swap out white pastas with the whole wheat ones?

NY Times’ Melissa Clark asks NYU Food Studies and Nutrition Professor Dr. Marion Nestle, a popular author of many food culture and politics books,  to explain in her 2010 article, Fiber Meets Flavor in New Whole-Grain Pastas:

“These [whole grain pastas] can taste terrible enough to turn off even the staunchest nutritionist. When I asked Marion Nestle…what she thought of the profusion of whole-grain ‘super’ pastas, she wrinkled her nose.

‘I object to people adding stuff to food to make it seem healthy,’ she said. ‘Pea powder and flaxseeds don’t belong in pasta.’

She did approve of whole-wheat pasta with an ingredient list of one (that would be whole wheat). ‘Just make sure it has plenty of fiber,’ she said — at least three grams in a two-ounce serving. ‘Otherwise it’s just not worth eating.’”

Personally, even as a registered dietitian who is very conscious about what I eat, I can’t seem to make the switch. I have forgiven myself for this, and get my whole grains from other sources, such as rye bread, corn tortillas, brown rice and whole wheat everything bagels.

One thing that I learned from my nutrition professor Dr. Andrea Pezzana, an Italian medical doctor from the University of Gastronomic Sciences, associated with the international Slow Food movement, is that when you cook white pasta al dente, it takes your system longer to digest, and makes it a lower glycemic food that when fully cooked. I like my pasta firm, so I’ll just go with this approach. Italian Doctor’s Orders anyway!

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