7 Healthier Pasta Tips for People With Type 2 Diabetes (2023)

2. Make Veggies the Star of Your Bowl

To make your bowl more diabetes-friendly, just add color — from veggies, that is.

Specifically, centering your pasta dish on nonstarchy, naturally low-calorie vegetables increases the amount of food and adds vitamins and minerals, Smithson says.

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“Nonstarchy vegetables are very high in fiber and have very little carbohydrate, which means less effect on blood sugar,” saysAnderson-Haynes.She recommends filling roughly half of your plate or bowl with options like kale, collard greens, arugula, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, carrots, or mushrooms.

3. Skip Creamy Sauce In Favor of an Oil- or Tomato-Based Sauce

Like other “white” foods to swap out of your diet (think: white bread, white rice, and yes, white pasta), ditch white sauce when preparing a more diabetes-friendly meal.

As Anderson-Haynes notes, traditional cream-based sauces tend to have more saturated fat and sodium than other options. “People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, so it’s imperative to choose heart-healthy foods low in sodium and fat,” she says. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), foods high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, which may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Meanwhile, getting excess sodium in your diet can increase the risk ofhigh blood pressure — one of the major risk factors for heart disease, notes the AHA.

Smithson suggests choosing sauces with anolive oil and fresh garlicbase, both of which offer potential heart-health benefits.

Olive oil, for example, contains a type of healthy fat known as monounsaturated fat. This type of fat may help lower cholesterol, a waxy substance that’s beneficial in small amounts, when traded in for less healthy fat sources like butter, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

These effects are supported by research. For example, a study of nearly 100,000 healthy men and women found an association between replacing 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of butter or margarine with an equal amount of olive oil and a 5 to 7 percent lower risk of heart disease after four years. While drawn from a large pool of participants, the study relied on self-reported questionnaires, which may leave room for error. The findings were published in the March 2020 issue of the journalCirculation.

Meanwhile, research suggests that allicin, a natural compound in garlic with antioxidant properties, may positively affect blood sugar levels. Areview published in September 2017 in the journal Food & Nutrition Research found that a supplement form of the herb significantly reduced fasting blood glucose within one to two weeks. Researchers examined nine randomized controlled trials with a total of 768 people living with type 2 diabetes who took between 0.05 g and 1.5 g of garlic. Most trials included fewer than 80 participants and lasted only 12 weeks. That said, the research looked at the daily use of garlic supplements, finding improved blood sugar control in two weeks, as well as in 24 weeks in people with type 2 diabetes. Whether similar results apply to raw garlic eaten with the occasional bowl of pasta remains to be seen.

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Remember: Olive oil provides healthy fats, but it’s still high in calories (124 calories per tbsp), so practice portion control. Use half a cup of olive oil and 4 to 5 garlic cloves per pound of cooked pasta, Smithson suggests. Portion the sauce equally among each serving of pasta (generally one-third of a cup of cooked noodles is 1 serving, according to Smithson).

Red pasta sauces like marinara or classic tomato are other great options, “as they are lower in overall fat and calories” than cream-based sauces, says Jana Mowrer, RDN, MPH, CDCES,a nutritionistbased in Fresno, California. Just stick with a serving size that’s one-half to three-quarters of a cup, she adds.

When buying a packaged red sauce, choose a jar that contains no added sugar and, ideally, no more than 15 g of carbs and 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium per half-cup serving, Mowrer says.

4. Experiment With Veggie Noodles

If you can’t handle wheat, or you’d like to slash the carbs in your pasta dish even more, try crafting noodles out of vegetables. If you don’t have a spiralizer or mandoline — two kitchen tools used to spiralize produce by hand — you can use a vegetable peeler. Simply take the peeled veggie strips and place them in boiling water for 20 seconds, then transfer the noodles into a bowl of ice, Smithson says. “For ease of preparation, it’s fine to purchase spiralized veggie noodles,” she adds.

As long as they’re not made from squash or sweet potatoes, which are starchy, spirals made from vegetables will be the lowest-carbohydrate option, Smithson says. Plus, veggie noodles are typically lower in calories, while offering plenty of vitamins and minerals.

One cup of cooked zucchini spirals, for example, contains only 27 calories and 5 g of carbs, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), whereas 1 cup of cooked whole-grain spaghetti noodles from Barilla brandcontains 180 calories and 39 g of carbs.

That same portion of zucchini also offers 23.2 mg of vitamin C, making it an excellent source, and 476 mg of potassium, making it a good source.

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Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and beets make for other good low-carb veggie noodle options.

RELATED: 7 Fruits and Veggies You Can Spiralize

5.Practice Portion Control

Being mindful about portion sizes is key for enjoying pasta when you’re managing type 2 diabetes. “The goal is to keep blood sugar levels from spiking too high,” Mowrer says.

Food portions — especially at restaurants — are much larger today than they were 20 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Multiple studies have found that people eat more food when they’re given bigger servings, and that they help themselves to more food when they have larger bowls and serving spoons, note the authors of a research article published in Advances in Nutrition. With those expanding portion sizes comes more carbs and calories.

“It’s important when consuming pasta to include other food groups and practice portion control, aiming for about one-quarter carbs, one-half veggies, and one-quarter lean protein on your plate per meal,” Mowrer says. The CDC recommends using a 9-inch dish (about the length of a business envelope) to take the guesswork out of portion control. Some companies, like Livliga, sell plates and bowls that indicate the ideal amounts of certain foods to eat for a given meal.

The exact number of carbs to aim for depends on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and any medications you’re taking, says Mowrer. Generally, she recommends that people with diabetes aim for 30 to 60 g of carbs per meal. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends working with your CDCES to figure out your carb goal.

6. Feature a Lean Protein

By combining a protein source with a carb-heavy dish like pasta, you can avoid a rapid blood sugar spike (and then a crash), Smithson says. That’s because protein is slower to digest than carbohydrates.

(Video) 5 Low Carb Meals for Diabetics that Don't Spike Blood Sugar

Plus, adding protein will make your pasta more satisfying, which may prevent you from overloading your plate with carbs, Anderson-Haynes says.

Opt for a lean protein source like skinless grilled chicken, ground turkey, or tofu. These foods tend to be lower in saturated fat and sodium than red meat or processed meats like bacon, according to the ADA.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Foods to Eat in a Type 2 Diabetes Diet

7. Go Easy on the Cheese

Pasta and cheese are a dynamic duo. And while people with diabetes don’t need to say goodbye to this yummy ingredient, moderation and choosing the right type are two keys to keeping your bowl healthy.

Executing portion control here may be an adjustment. Believe it or not, a single serving of cheese is only 1 oz, or roughly the length of your thumb from tip to base, according to the CDC. Try your best to opt for this thumb-sized serving, Mowrer advises.

As far as diabetes-friendly cheeses go, choose white ones like mozzarella or Parmesan, which are lower in fat and calories than other options. Mowrer suggests grating them to make the serving sizes go further. One ounce of low-fat, part-skim mozzarella, for example, has 70 calories and 4 g of fat (2.5 g saturated fat), according to the USDA.

Limit or avoid fattier cheeses such as ricotta. One ounce of full-fat ricotta from Hyvee brand has roughly 50 calories and 3.5 g of fat, including 2.25 g of saturated fat, per the USDA.

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Reduced and nonfat cheeses can also be good options. A “light” version of ricotta, for example, offers 30 calories and only 1.5 g of fat (1 g of saturated fat).


What pasta is good for type 2 diabetes? ›

Choose Whole-Grain Pasta

“Whole-grain pasta can be a great option because it offers more fiber, which can help blunt blood sugar spikes,” Smithson says. Many typical white pasta noodles are fashioned with semolina flour, which is made by grinding a type of wheat known as durum, according to Bob's Red Mill.

Can Type 2 diabetics have pasta? ›

People with diabetes can eat pasta but should choose whole grain types and watch their portion size. Diabetes-friendly pasta recipes may include alternative types of pasta, along with healthy vegetables, protein, and low-fat sauces.

How much pasta is a type 2 diabetic allowed? ›

As a carbohydate-containing food, pasta is safe to consume when following a diabetic diet; however, because 1/3 cup equals 15 grams of carbohydrate, the amount of pasta in one meal should not exceed 1 cup, or 45 grams of carbohydrate.

Which pasta has the lowest glycemic index? ›

Durum wheat pasta is considered a low-glycemic index (GI) food.

Are egg noodles OK for diabetics? ›

Like most foods with starchy carbohydrates, egg noodles are not great for your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Is Barilla protein pasta good for diabetics? ›

Try a lower-carbohydrate pasta

Barilla ProteinPLUS and Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest are not exactly low-carb, but they contain whole grains (Barilla ProteinPLUS also contains legumes), which may be better for your glucose.

Which pasta is the healthiest? ›

  • Whole-Wheat Pasta. Whole-wheat pasta is an easy-to-find nutritious noodle that will bump up the nutrition of your pasta dish. ...
  • Chickpea Pasta. ...
  • Veggie Noodles. ...
  • Red Lentil Pasta. ...
  • Soba Noodles. ...
  • White Pasta.
Oct 11, 2022

How should diabetics cook pasta? ›

Cook pasta so it's al dente

The longer pasta is cooked for, the more it's broken down. This releases more sugars from the pasta and ultimately results in higher blood sugar levels. The best diabetic pastas are prepared al dente, so cook your pasta so that it's still relatively hard, rather than being soft and mushy.

Is Sweet Potato good for diabetics? ›

Sweet potatoes have a sterling nutritional profile, making them a great food for people with diabetes. Here's how to start incorporating them into your diet. Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular foods for diabetes at Everyday Health, and with good reason.

How often can a diabetic eat pasta? ›

How much pasta can someone with diabetes eat? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that people can count carbs or use the Diabetes Plate Method to portion pasta. If using the Plate Method, people should eat no more than a quarter plate of pasta. It also states that a portion of cooked pasta is a half-cup.

Can a diabetic have pizza? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, people with diabetes can enjoy all types of pizza. However, it's a good idea for all people, not just those with diabetes, to limit their intake of pizza.

Is chicken alfredo good for diabetics? ›

Yes, you can eat pasta if you have diabetes. Pasta is a source of carbohydrate with 1/3 cup cooked pasta containing 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 carb choice).

Which is worse for diabetics bread or pasta? ›

White bread, for example, lets loose a flood of glucose, so your blood sugar spikes, but pasta, particularly if it's not overcooked, doesn't have that effect. Although the ingredients of the two foods are almost identical, pasta has a difficult molecular structure that your body can't break down as quickly.

Is Barilla pasta low glycemic? ›

The durum wheat Barilla uses to make its pasta is tested to ensure that it has levels of mycotoxins (a group of naturally occurring chemicals produced by certain molds) that are far below the legal tolerance levels, which are already very conservative. Pasta is also a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index.

Is rice worse than pasta for diabetics? ›

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics has demonstrated the same stating that compared with white rice, peak blood sugar levels were significantly lower for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) who consumed higher protein pasta.

Are lo mein noodles good for diabetics? ›

Carbohydrates and Diabetes

One cup of vegetable lo mein contains 27 grams of carbohydrates, so assuming they eat no more than 2 cups in one sitting, diabetics can eat lo mein.

Which type of rice is best for diabetics? ›

Wholegrain Basmati rice has the lowest GI (glycaemic index) of all rice types, which means once digested it releases its energy slowly keeping blood sugar levels more stable, which is a crucial part of diabetes management.

Is there any bread a diabetic can eat? ›

The American Diabetes Association recommends choosing whole grain bread or 100 percent whole wheat bread instead of white bread. White bread is made from highly processed white flour and added sugar. Here are some delicious and healthy breads to try: Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran and Wheat Pita Bread.

Is there such thing as sugar free pasta? ›

Wonder Noodles 4 Pack Keto Pasta, | Zero Carb Noodles, | Kosher, Vegan Friendly, No Sugar, No Fat, | Ready to Eat, Paleo Pasta | 2 Fettuccine, 2 Spaghetti (56 Oz.)

Is brown rice pasta good for diabetics? ›

Brown rice is perfectly safe to eat in moderation if you have diabetes. While it's high in carbs, its fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals may improve blood sugar control, thereby helping manage diabetes.

Can diabetics eat popcorn? ›

Popcorn is a very popular and healthy whole-grain snack food. It has been deemed a suitable snack food for people with diabetes, partly because of its low calorie density. One cup (8 grams) of air-popped popcorn contains just 31 calories.

What Italian pasta is healthy? ›

Best: Spaghetti Marinara

If you're craving pasta, this is a pretty healthy choice. Start with whole wheat spaghetti, and add a touch of olive oil to the marinara sauce. It's OK because it helps your body absorb an important tomato nutrient (lycopene) that protects your cells.

What is the healthiest way to cook pasta? ›

Pasta boiled al dente has a lower glycemic index. With this shorter cooking time, the starch granules are hydrated, but not so much that they release into the cooking water. The starch can also be digested in a gradual manner, which prevents blood sugar spikes.

Is boxed veggie pasta healthy? ›

“If you're aiming for fewer carbohydrates and calories, try veggie pastas,” Thayer said. “They'll have slightly fewer or similar amounts of fiber and much less protein than traditional pasta, but they're a great alternative for anyone – especially for those with gluten sensitivities, wheat allergies or celiac disease.”

Does rinsing pasta reduce carbs? ›

Running water over your cooked pasta will rinse away the starchy build up that forms around your pasta noodles as they release starch into the boiling water while cooking.

Is spaghetti OK for diabetics? ›

Yes, you can eat pasta when you have diabetes. While pasta is a high-carb food, it can be safely consumed when paired with high-fiber options and lean proteins, and properly portioned out.

Can diabetics eat macaroni and cheese? ›

These types of carbs are digested more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels even. Even comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese can be diabetes-friendly!

Which vegetables should be avoided in diabetes? ›

People living with diabetes should look to avoid vegetables with a high GI rating, as the body absorbs blood sugar from those foods much quicker compared with low-GI foods. This includes artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, celery, cauliflower, eggplant/aubergine, green beans, lettuce, peppers, snow peas and spinach.”

Is corn good for a diabetic? ›

Yes, you can eat corn if you have diabetes. Corn is a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's also low in sodium and fat. That said, follow the advice of the American Diabetes Association.

Are canned baked beans OK for diabetics? ›

Beans are a diabetes super food. The American Diabetes Association advises people with diabetes to add dried beans or no-sodium canned beans to several meals each week. They are low on the glycemic index and can help manage blood sugar levels better than many other starchy foods.

What junk food can diabetics eat? ›

Best fast-food options for people with diabetes
  • Taco Bell Veggie Bowl. Photo: Taco Bell.
  • Burger King Whopper Junior. Photo: Burger King.
  • Chipotle Salad. Photo: Chipotle.
  • Starbucks Protein Box. Photo: Starbucks.
  • McDonalds Filet-o-fish. ...
  • Panera sandwich. ...
  • Wendy's Grilled Chicken Wrap. ...
  • Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich Subway.
Sep 28, 2018

What can a diabetic eat at an Italian restaurant? ›

The best bet for entrees at an Italian restaurant is to stick to the grilled fish and meat specials, and to ask for veggies on the side instead of pasta. Mexican Fare: Good appetizers might include salad or black bean soup.

What cheese can you eat with diabetes? ›

Here are some of the healthiest cheese options for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Goat cheese. Goat cheese may be the healthiest cheese option for people with type 2 diabetes. ...
  • Cottage cheese. ...
  • Romano cheese. ...
  • Cheddar cheese. ...
  • Feta cheese. ...
  • Mozzarella cheese.

Can a diabetic have Chinese food? ›

“When ordering Chinese, focus on dishes packed full of lean proteins and vegetables with limited rice and noodles,” advises Palinski-Wade, who suggests ordering steamed chicken and broccoli with the sauce on the side.

Can a diabetic eat a hamburger? ›

Burger: You can have a burger, but consider forgoing the bun. Top with lettuce, tomato and onion, and skip the condiments to avoid unnecessary sugars. Bean salad: Beans are a good option. While baked beans tend to be higher in sugar, a light bean salad is a great choice.

Which sauce is best for diabetics? ›

The health site added: “The following are some tasty options that people with diabetes can choose from:
  • Vinegar.
  • Olive oil.
  • Mustard.
  • Any spice or herb.
  • Any variety of extracts.
  • Hot sauces.
  • Salsa.
Jan 10, 2021

Can diabetics eat ice cream? ›

In moderate amounts, ice cream is not prohibited for type 2 diabetes patients. Diabetics need to consider the amount of ice cream that would have an impact on glucose levels. As blood sugar management is very important for maintaining normal glucose levels.

Is chicken or turkey better for diabetics? ›

Best: Skinless White Meat Turkey

Turkey breast has almost no fat to speak of, and no saturated fat.

Is mayonnaise good for diabetics? ›

Yes, a person with diabetes can eat mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has less than a single gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon. But with 10 grams of total fat (1.6 grams of that coming from saturated fat) it can be considered high fat. So you may want to limit the amount of mayonnaise you eat or find an alternative.

Is Oatmeal good for a diabetic? ›

Not only are oats nutritious and satiating, they can also offer specific benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. According to MedlinePlus, adults with type 2 diabetes may benefit from eating whole grains like oats, due to their potential glucose and cholesterol-lowering effects.

Can diabetics eat Prego spaghetti sauce? ›

If you have diabetes, you should avoid tomato sauce because of its high sodium and carbohydrate content.

What pasta is better than Barilla? ›

Why De Cecco Is a Better Dry Pasta. The reason De Cecco is preferred is because it's a higher-quality product. While both De Cecco and Barilla hail from Italy and use 100% semolina flour (the flour of choice for dry pasta), De Cecco takes an extra measure: they use bronze dies to cut the pasta.

What kind of pasta is low in carbohydrates? ›

Shirataki Noodles and Tofu Shirataki Noodles

If you're counting carbs and craving pasta, these are your best bet. Shirataki noodles are a traditional Japanese product made from a fiber called glucomannan, which is produced from konjac, an Asian root vegetable.

What bread is low on the glycemic index? ›

Low-glycemic foods score 55 or less and include: 100-percent stone-ground whole-wheat or pumpernickel bread.

Is peanut butter good for diabetics? ›

Peanut butter can definitely be part of a healthy diabetes diet plan. Always look for peanut butter that contains only peanuts and maybe some salt. Avoid peanut butter that includes added sugars and hydrogenated oils.

Can a diabetic eat spaghetti with meat sauce? ›

It is usually made by cooking and blending ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. Diabetics can eat spaghetti sauce. Its ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs such as oregano can help maintain blood sugar levels and manage diabetes.

What high carb foods to avoid for diabetics? ›

Try to eat less of these: refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods and those with added sugar. These include sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea and juice, refined grains like white bread, white rice and sugary cereal, and sweets and snack foods like cake, cookies, candy and chips.

How much pasta should a diabetic eat? ›

How much pasta can someone with diabetes eat? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that people can count carbs or use the Diabetes Plate Method to portion pasta. If using the Plate Method, people should eat no more than a quarter plate of pasta. It also states that a portion of cooked pasta is a half-cup.

Can diabetics eat any pasta? ›

You can still enjoy pasta if you have diabetes. But because it is high in carbohydrates, you'll need to adjust your portion size and/or choose healthier varieties, such as whole wheat or fortified pasta. Pasta substitutes like ancient grains or spiraled vegetables are also great options.

Is Mayo OK for diabetics? ›

Yes, a person with diabetes can eat mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has less than a single gram of carbohydrates per tablespoon. But with 10 grams of total fat (1.6 grams of that coming from saturated fat) it can be considered high fat. So you may want to limit the amount of mayonnaise you eat or find an alternative.

Can a diabetic eat pizza? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, people with diabetes can enjoy all types of pizza. However, it's a good idea for all people, not just those with diabetes, to limit their intake of pizza.

What kind of Mexican food can diabetics eat? ›

Here's what you should eat instead:
  • Fillings made of beans, grilled chicken or grilled steak.
  • Meals made with soft flour tortillas, such as burritos, tostadas, and carnitas.
  • Grilled lime-flavored shrimp.
  • Bean enchiladas with a little cilantro and onions.
  • Salsas.
  • Sautéed veggies.
Jun 8, 2021

Are hot dogs good for diabetics? ›

People with type 2 diabetes should limit or avoid high-fat cuts of meat, such as regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and ribs, because like full-fat dairy, they're high in saturated fats, explains Kimberlain.


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