Traditional pasta is problematic for blood sugar.
The most common noodle options are mainly made with refined flour, which is rich in carbs and low in nutrients, thanks to a process that removes the fibrous outer coating (also known as the germ and bran) from wheat. Without that slow-digesting fiber, the body absorbs the carbohydrates faster and, as a result, is more likely to experience glucose spikes.
Thankfully, new pasta alternatives ditch refined and processed carbs without sacrificing flavor or texture. Whether you make them yourself or buy them, it’s no longer difficult to find options that satisfy your cravings without the blood sugar roller coaster. 🙌 Use the tips and recipe inspiration below to make easy, quick-cooking meals that satisfies your appetite for noodles.
Build a Better Dish
Choosing the right noodle is the first step to making blood sugar-friendly pasta meals, but it’s hardly the only thing you can do. Try these other easy and creative ideas for delicious, healthy dishes.
Swap traditional noodles for nutrient dense alternatives. From store-bought options like chickpea and lentil noodles that taste almost identical to white flour pasta to zucchini noodles that you can spiralize at home or spaghetti squash, it’s easy to find a pasta swap that won’t spike blood sugar.
Load up on veggies. 🥦 When in doubt, double down on fiber-rich vegetables. Some evidence suggests that eating non-starchy options like spinach and broccoli before carbs slows down their absorption, leading to a more balanced blood sugar response. Veggies like zucchini and carrots can even complement and imitate the taste and texture of noodles if you cut them into pasta shapes. Other low-carb, micronutrient-rich options include leafy greens, bell peppers, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
Add high-quality protein. 🍗 Eating carbs alongside a balance of fiber, protein, and healthy fats can help minimize glucose spikes. Research has shown that high-protein diets may decrease postprandial glucose responses by as much as 40%. Try mixing in beans or sustainably-raised animal protein, blending silken tofu into a cream sauce, or sprinkling toasted nuts on top.
Ditch sugary sauces. 🍅 Many surprising store-bought foods—including pasta sauce—contain added sugar.While pesto isn’t typically made with sugar, tomato sauce can contain high amounts—one brand with added sugars contains a total of 11 grams per ½-cup serving. As an alternative, I like Trader Joe’s Spicy Chunky Tomato and Pepper Sauce, which has less than half that (5 grams) and no added sugars. Rao’s brand also doesn’t add sugar. You can get Rao’s pasta sauce from Thrive Market which is an online health food store (along with gluten free pastas). Use this link to get 40% off your first order at Thrive Market.
You can also DIY an easy marinara with just four ingredients you likely have in the pantry: canned or fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and salt.
Add better toppings. A sprinkle of cheese isn’t likely to cause glucose spikes, but some research shows that eating dairy products may boost insulin production, possibly because of the proteins in milk. If you avoid dairy, nutritional yeast is a good alternative. It lends a cheesy flavor, plus about two grams of fiber and five grams of protein per two tablespoons.
Now that you know more about making a pasta dish healthier, here are some recipes to help you get started ⬇