Semolina vs. Whole Wheat Pasta: The Knock-down, Drag-out Question of “Healthy” November 29, 2007

someone asked picklewitch: “Do you have any idea if semolina pasta is as “healthy” as wholewheat pasta?”

let’s get this straight. picklewitch is not a nutrition expert. picklewitch is, however, willing to look things up . and, picklewitch does think about nutrition and related issues, since these are general components of wellness and, therefore at least in my book, life.

ok. so, picklewitch looked things up. according to my research, here’s a reasonable answer.

by the numbers, semolina pasta is not quite as “healthy” for you as whole wheat pasta. however, in my opinion, whole wheat pasta tastes yucky. (blech!) so, while it may be somewhat healthier in terms of fiber content and reduced carb content, it doesn’t taste nearly as good as semolina pasta does. life is short. if all i wanted to do is “eat healthy”, i still wouldn’t (and don’t!) bother with whole wheat pasta. if i really had to have the nutritional profile of whole wheat pasta, i’d probably find something that i like better but has similar nutritional characteristics. barley, for example. barley is incredibly nutritious. it has 6 g of fiber for every 157 gram serving. (but, even if i changed the name of the soup, i wouldn’t put barley in my asian-style noodle soup. i’d just figure out other ways to eat barley, which i do.)

even though semolina pasta isn’t quite as “healthy” as whole wheat pasta (and i repeat blech!), semolina as a flour is pretty nutritious. it has 7 grams of fiber per 167 gram serving, which is 26% of your USRDA of fiber. (currently “official”us guidelines suggests 20 – 25 grams of fiber per day.) 167 grams of semolina has 21 grams of protein and contains 3% of your USRDA of calcium plus 11% of your USRDA of iron. (source: www.nutritiondata.com)

according to the “pasta facts” page on the whole foods market website (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/grocery/pasta_facts.html), 2 ounces of dry semolina pasta contain 7 g of protein, 1 g of fat, 2 g of fiber and 44 g of carbs to give you 210 calories. now, this is for pasta, not the raw grain itself as above. btw – in case it is useful, 2 ounces equals roughly 57 grams. (it’s actually 56.699).

let’s look at whole wheat pasta. (do i need to repeat myself here? blech!) again according to the whole foods source above, at 5 g of fiber per 2 ounce serving, whole wheat pasta contains more fiber than semolina pasta does. ounce per ounce, whole wheat pasta also contains the same amount of protein and an additional gram of fat. (so, 2 g of fat per 2 ounce serving.) a 2 ounce serving of whole wheat pasta has 39 carbs. i’m not sure how much difference that gram of fat makes in the overall “health profile”. probably not much.

to recap: whole wheat pasta looks like it is “healthier” than semolina pasta. but, i really don’t care for whole wheat pasta and so am not really that interested in how healthy it is. interestingly, turnip greens have 5 g of fiber per 144 g (~5 ounce) serving. that’s as much fiber as whole wheat pasta! they are also much higher in things like vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium while being lower in carbs (not always a good thing). they don’t have as much protein as whole wheat pasta but they do taste awfully good with bacon. (yum!) oh, come on! that’s got to be worth something.

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