How Healthy Is Chickpea Pasta? A Dietitian Weighs In on Nutrition and Weight-Loss Benefits
While all pasta can be healthy, some noodles are more nutritious than others — and trendy chickpea pasta is legitimately an excellent choice. Popular brands like Banza and Barilla can vary ever so slightly in ingredients, taste, and nutrition, but on the whole these products are a smart and filling meal no matter which one you’re making.
Here’s all the info. you need to know before you pick up a box for dinner tonight:
Is chickpea pasta actually good for you?
Yes! Chickpeas themselves are plant-based powerhouses chock-full of both protein and fiber — up to 8 grams of each per ½ cup serving. Plus, they’re a sustainable food source along with other pulses like beans, peas, and lentil≠s.
Chickpea pasta also deserves all of the public recognition it can get. Compared to traditional wheat-based pasta, a traditional 2-ounce serving size has slightly less calories, double the fiber, and up to double the protein, depending on the brand. Also, many versions are naturally gluten-free.
It may have some cost-saving benefits, too, since you won’t need to buy an extra protein (like beef or chicken) to get dinner on the table. While traditional pasta also provides plant-based protein and fiber, chickpea pastas also have greater amounts of iron and potassium — two key minerals crucial for circulation.
Is chickpea pasta low carb?
A serving of chickpea pasta has between 30-35 grams total carbs, which is up to 40% less than traditional versions. One cup of cooked wheat-based pasta serving has about 35-45 grams of carbs. The difference depends on the type of pasta and the specific flour blend.
Chickpea Pasta Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 2 ounces Barilla Chickpea Rotini
- Calories: 190
- Total Carbs: 34g
- Total Fiber: 8g
- Protein: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 0.5g
- Iron: 15% DV
- Potassium: 15% DV
Regular Pasta Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 2 ounces Barilla Regular Rotini
- Calories: 200
- Total Carbs: 42g
- Total Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 7g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Iron: 10% DV
- Potassium: 2% DV
Is chickpea pasta good for weight loss?
Chickpea pasta is both tasty and filling, which makes it great for weight management and weight loss. With regular pasta, our tendency is to wolf it down since it’s not so filled with fiber or protein on its own, but chickpea pasta has more of both.
I’d still urge you to go slow on the legume linguine, though. If you’re not used to the fiber-filled flour, the higher amounts can cause bloating and discomfort if there’s not enough water to help ’em along. You’ll want to drink a little extra H2O that day and during your chickpea-fueled meal just in case.
Is chickpea pasta good for diabetics?
Yes, compared to traditional pasta, it’s a lower-glycemic choice for anyone looking to get better at managing blood sugar. The glycemic index refers to how the product will affect your blood sugar on its own. The combo of protein and fiber found in these little legumes helps slow down digestion, and therefore provides a more stable rise in blood sugar post-meal.
That said, if you’re dousing your pasta bowl in sweetened sauce or dumping “glazed” (code for sugary!) shrimp or chicken on top, you may experience a greater spike after eating.
What’s the healthiest pasta?
Pastas made with just legumes are your go-to choice. Look for just “chickpea flour” or “chickpeas” on the ingredients list, like Barilla’s latest version, or opt for ones that use another flour made from peas or beans to add more fiber and protein.
For example, Banza‘s version with pea protein isolate has 14 grams of protein per serving compared to Barilla’s 11 grams per serving. Some chickpea pastas also use other lentil flour and/or brown rice flour for texture or flavor purposes, like Pow! Pasta Chickpea Elbows and Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli.
When it comes to all-in-one frozen meals with chickpea pasta, aim for under 500mg of sodium per serving. And by serving, what I mean is the amount you intend on actually eating. Being realistic with yourself is the best way to know where and how to begin a pasta project. If you really need to cut back on sodium, then you’re better off using a dry pasta without added flavors.
How to Make Chickpea Pasta
These quick cooking tips will maximize nutritional quality, boost flavor, and make chickpea pasta a money-saving meal you can prep and make in minutes.
1. Cook for 6 minutes.
Al dente pasta gets digested more slowly for sustained energy, but the chickpea kind may have a shorter cooking time than what you’re used to. You can follow the directions on the box or bag, but in my opinion, chickpea pastas taste best after boiling for six minutes.
2. Season with herbs, spices, and olive oil.
To maximize taste without sacrificing on nutrition, flavor with extra virgin olive oil, herbs, spices, and sea salt. You don’t need to add protein from seafood or meat, but you can use some if you’re opting for a bigger meal. Vegetarians, sprinkle on a combo of cheeses like part-skim ricotta and shaved parmesan to avoid overloading on total calories or sodium.
3. When in doubt, add more vegetables.
This will make your pasta dish a touch lighter so you won’t feel super stuffed after you eat — especially if you’re also adding meat or seafood.
My pro tip: Double up on the veggie serving you’d normally have, and cut the pasta in half or by a third. You’ll keep the flavor, add extra fiber, and generally max out on nutritional quality without ever noticing the difference.
To get your veggies in, keep frozen, fresh, and canned versions of your favorites on-hand to add to any meal, any time. Sauté sides and add ’em to your plate, stir them into sauce, or mix chickpea pasta with with zoodles to bulk up the finished product.