Poor pasta. It always gets a bad reputation, but noodles can actually be good for you. Here we looked at some of the best noodles to eat for your health.
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If you love eating pasta and noodles, you may notice there are plenty of options to choose from at the store—gluten-free, whole-wheat, bean-based, rice noodles, and many more. But how do you know which noodles and pastas to include for your optimal health? We dug a little deeper into some of our favorite noodles and shared why they can be a good choice. For the purpose of our discussion, we are lumping pasta and noodles together, but the two terms are by no means to be used interchangeably. (If you're following a low-carb diet, check out these low-carb pastas to try instead of classic noodles.)

1. Whole-wheat pasta

Whole-wheat pasta is an easy-to-find nutritious noodle that will bump up the nutrition of your pasta dish. Made from whole grains, every cup of cooked pasta (140 grams) boasts 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per serving. Most of us don't eat enough fiber, which is good for our heart and digestion, so consuming pasta is one way to boost our fiber intake. You may also be surprised that every serving of cooked pasta has more protein than one cooked egg.

Some people may find whole wheat pasta a little less tasty than regular semolina pasta. With the right sauce paired, like in our Pesto Pasta Salad or Spinach & Artichoke Dip Pasta, everyone in the family will be happy at dinner.

2. Chickpea pasta

There are many different types of chickpea pasta to choose from, although they may be a bit harder to find (check the natural or gluten-free section of your grocery store if you don't see this in the pasta aisle). We love that chickpea pasta has all the nutrition of chickpeas. Also, because it's made from beans, every two ounce-serving of chickpea pasta has 14 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, offering a filling and healthy meal.

Chickpea pasta has a relatively neutral flavor, making it a perfect choice for kids who may be more selective with their food choices. This protein-rich pasta also works well in a variety of dishes. We love making macaroni and cheese with chickpea pasta or just tossing it with jarred sauce for an easy dinner.

3. Veggie noodles

When it comes to noodle substitutes, vegetables like zucchini, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are all great options. Nutrition will vary depending on the vegetable you use—you'll usually save calories and carbohydrates compared to traditional noodles. Since most of us don't eat enough vegetables, using them as a noodle swap can be a creative way to get more in your diet. Our spaghetti squash lasagna and spiralizing zoodles recipes are worthy to try. To create a filling and nutritious pasta dish, consider combining zucchini noodles to spaghetti.

4. Red lentil pasta

Like chickpea pasta, red lentil noodles are gluten-free and deliver a hefty dose of plant-based protein and fiber. You'll get 15 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving (56 g), plus 20% of your daily iron needs. Red lentil pasta is a darker orange color—you won't fool anyone into thinking it's just regular spaghetti. Still, including this pasta in meals can be a great way to get plant-based nutrition into lentil haters.

5. Soba noodles

Soba noodles are made with buckwheat, that despite having wheat in the name is gluten-free. Buckwheat is a whole grain, offering more fiber than many other kinds of pasta. Soba noodles are a variety of Japanese noodles that is often used in soups and noodle bowls. Try them cold in our Summer Vegetable Sesame Noodles. Some soba noodles are made with a blend of wheat flour and buckwheat flour, so check the ingredients' list if you're looking for a gluten-free option.

6. White pasta 

The classic white pasta is delicious and not as unhealthy as people often think. Your classic spaghetti is made with semolina flour and is enriched with extra vitamins and minerals like iron, folate and B vitamins. A one-cup serving of spaghetti (151 grams) has 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber (so not as much as bean-based pastas, but not nothing). There are 47 grams of carbohydrates per serving, which is why pasta gets such a bad reputation.

While the carbohydrates in a classic pasta aren't whole grain, they can still be part of a balanced diet and enjoyed occassionally. Consider making whole-wheat noodles for some nights, chickpea pasta for others. And, sometimes making only white pasta will do. The key here is balance—add some vegetables and protein to make your pasta dish more balanced and enjoy every bite.

Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.